Your factory is designed round material flow
The rate at which materials flow though a factory is one of the most important factors governing your business performance. Finding ways to increase the flow of materials offers a common purpose that everyone in your company can understand, and results in reduced lead times, being able respond quicker to customers and the release of cash
Key Issues
·         Traditional western manufacturers believed stock was an asset and paid little attention to the time it took for materials to pass through the factory
·         The Japanese vehicle manufacturers changed this approach, regarding stock as an ‘evil’ to be eliminated whenever possible
·         This resulted in a fundamental rethink of how factories must be organised
·         Traditional workshops should be restructured into multi-disciplinary, well equipped modules/cells, capable of producing a family of parts
·         Modules/cells should be designed for a specific purpose, allowing materials to flow from one operation to the next, with minimum interruption, from start to finish
·         To achieve this, attention should be given to the following;
o     Your people should be trained to undertake a variety of tasks
o      All equipment and measuring systems must be process-capable If they are not, you should consider investment in new equipment if it can be financially justified, refurbishing existing equipment or buying the item
o     Machine changeover times should be significantly and progressively reduced
o     All equipment should be routinely checked and maintained
o     Bottleneck processes should be identified and given priority
o      Production schedules and plans must be achievable and delivered in full
o      Suppliers should form an integral part of the flow process
o      Kanbans should be used, when possible, to pull parts from suppliers through into the modules and into assembly operations
o      Batch sizes and the number of Kanbans should be continually reduced until the system fails and exposes a problem that can be resolved
o      Measuring the flow of materials should be a key performance measure
o      Improving material flow makes a good continuous improvement project
Factors for Success      
Factors to  Avoid
1.     The factory is redesigned by the most capable people in the company
2.     People are trained to operate and changeover a range of equipment and in other tasks to support the module e.g. quality, continuous improvement
3.     All equipment is process capable
4.     You have invested in facility improvements
1.     Expecting considerable improvements without a fundamental change and re-investment in facilities, equipment and training
2.     Placing the responsibility for increasing flow solely on the shop floor operatives
3.     Relying on the MRP system to deliver a significant increase in material flow
4.     Regarding an increased material flow as a one-off effort
Who does this apply to?
Senior managers responsible for improving the performance of their business
Realisable Benefits
Released cash from work in progress, removal of intermediate stores


Logistics co-ordinationLogistics co-ordination

Logistics co-ordination

Uninterrupted material flowUninterrupted material flow

Uninterrupted material flow

Responding to changes in volumes and product mixResponding to changes in volumes and product mix

Responding to changes in volumes and product mix

Make versus buyMake versus buy

Make versus buy

The supplier approval processThe supplier approval process

The supplier approval process

Monitoring supplier performanceMonitoring supplier performance

Monitoring supplier performance

Sharing information with suppliersSharing information with suppliers

Sharing information with suppliers

Managing inventory throughout the supply chainManaging inventory throughout the supply chain

Managing inventory throughout the supply chain

Improving the delivery performance of suppliersImproving the delivery performance of suppliers

Improving the delivery performance of suppliers

Material flow and the factoryMaterial flow and the factory

Material flow and the factory

Production scheduling processProduction scheduling process

Production scheduling process

Calculating production capacityCalculating production capacity

Calculating production capacity

Visual managementVisual management

Visual management

Health and safetyHealth and safety

Health and safety





Ensuring equipment is availableEnsuring equipment is available

Ensuring equipment is available





Consistent manufacturingConsistent manufacturing

Consistent manufacturing