Unit flow production

If your production method is manual, whether partially or totally, producing by unit flow will bring you impressive gains!

This mode of production is also applicable in offices and warehouses.

Unit flow production eliminates delays, accumulations, wasted time. It speeds up the pace and often reduces the number of employees required. You’ll deliver to your customers faster, at lower costs.

I just implemented it with one of my clients. The units produced per hour have been multiplied by 8! The number of employees on the line fell from 10 to 6. Not to mention the reduction in delivery time. For employees, everything is easier and more ergonomic, there are much less steps and stress because this mode of production makes it possible to stop running and do the right things the first time.

You wonder what unit flow production is. I will summarize this production method very simply: it is to process one unit at a time throughout operations instead of producing in batches, or several units at a time that you accumulate before passing them on to the next operation.

I’ll give you a simple example that I regularly see of a batch production. You must package a product and you “build” all the boxes in advance which you accumulate along the walls of your production room.

All this to get ahead, of course. It’s what everyone believes that doing these assembly sub steps ahead of time will get done with your order faster in the final assembly when you put together all the “semi-finished” items.

Unfortunately, no! You don’t believe me? Try it, you will see.

But how to do it? It’s simple.

  • Break down your production process step by step.
  • Measure the time to complete each step.
  • Distribute tasks evenly among employees, no one should wait for another. The tasks must be balanced.
  • You will be able to establish the rhythm of your production either based on the shortest task, the longest or on the tact time depending on whether you want to put more or fewer people, go faster or slower or according to your production capacity.
  • One person will do a task and give the unit to a 2nd person, who will do the 2nd step, then will give the unit to the 3rd person who will do the 3rd step, etc. until the end of your production.

Now it’s time for you to do your tests according to your products. And do the math. Measure a batch production and then with the same products, test and measure a unit flow production.

You will find that you will be faster and produce better quality products because every mistake will be immediately seen by the next person in the production flow.

Imagine your productivity gain without counting that you will deliver faster to your customers!

Happy success!

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