Lean Manufacturing

The Lean Factory is Not an Orchestra

By Jon Miller Published on December 9th, 2003

The idea of an orchestra is sometimes used to explain Takt Time (the beat of production paced to customer demand). While an orchestra makes sense that the instruments (processes) should be playing music (doing production) to the same beat (customer demand), it doesn稚 make sense in terms of a flow layout. In an orchestra, all of the violins are in one section, all of the horns are in another, etc. This can be compared to functional departments in traditional manufacturers, where the layout is by machine or process type. This creates local sub-optimization which results in wasted inventory, transportation, etc. and a general lack of flow and velocity. Rather, a Lean factory should be like a 4-man band. Think of the Beatles with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Each plays or sings a different part. The band is like a cell or a flow line. They serve a very particular customer (rock 創 roll fans). Their product (sound) would be lost in an orchestra. In a Lean factory, you need to identify your customers and break up the orchestra into value streams, and organize the process into many small, quick flows (4-man bands).

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