Separate High-volume processes from Low-volume processes

Separating High-Volume Production From Low-Volume Production

One of the principles I use in my consulting practice, after I get going with a client, is to ask them to look at splitting their high-volume production from their low-volume production; actually physically separating them if possible. High-volume production typically has a relatively narrow product line of not more than one or two dozen products, whereas low-volume production could have hundreds or thousands of different final products. I have applied this tool successfully in several different physical production environments, all with the same results of significantly increased throughput and efficiency as well as lower prices and hassle. This is one of the tools that I guided my clients to apply in some of the Case Studies on this site. (Please see the Diamond Drill Bit Manufacturing Company.)

What is more, the same tools that apply in Physical Transformation and Service Delivery, also apply to Information Flows and Problem Solving Flows. (Please see the TTZ Overview article). Typically, I have my clients apply this tool, among others, to batch and queue information sources that are supposed to be feeding smoothly-flowing high-volume production or service delivery.

The batch and queue nature of these information sources typically makes high-volume production start… and stop… and then start and run like mad… and stop… and then start and run like mad again… and stop… etc. (See the Receiving to Payment case for how this applies to Information flows.) Sure, while Physical Transformation or Service Delivery is going it flows much faster, while it has information, and then it comes to a screeching halt as soon as it does not have materials properly delivered, or supplies, or properly trained operators, or production authorization, or… etc.

Smoothing-out “Value”-creating Physical Transformation or Service Delivery typically strains the information delivery system. Typically, because of prior backflows or non-flows in production (on the 3rd Tier of the TTZ), these information sources have never had to deliver either quickly, flexibly or accurately to these production or service value streams.

For example, many orders in different industries have a small custom portion, and a large stock portion. Custom production can be separated from stock production by time and sequence. Typically the stock production, with a narrow product line, just sails right through production. However, production of the custom portion requires timely, accurate & complete information from Sales and Marketing. Lacking this information (or even worse having incorrect information), the custom portion typically proceeds in the following fashion: start the project because you think you have all of the information… and then stop and wait due to lack of some critical information… … and then go like there’s no tomorrow to meet the original completion date… over and over! Sadly, this situation can repeat itself several times a week or a day, with one order tumbling over its peers on a routine basis.

Typically, when the whole order is released at the same time, the stock components whiz right through and end up waiting for the custom components… which are waiting for correct information. Frequently, this situation requires additional storage space, as well as high-priority emergency rework of the occasionally damaged stock components. Minimizing this condition is the origin of production floor or service bay “cheat sheets” in order to handle anything Sales sends down the pipeline. (Please see the Option Tree Tips article.)

Sequencing the custom production before the stock production permits using the completion of the custom production as the trigger to commence the rapid completion of the stock production. This has all kinds of consequences that are just wonderful, such as the reduction of required space to hold the entire order, the elimination of damage and rework to the stock production, and the reduction of required setups to accomplish the combined production, among others. (For an illustration of this last suggestion, please see the Custom Kitchen Cabinet Mill article.)