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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Flow Requires “No” Vision

When Henry Ford introduced flow production in 1913, the objective was to drastically reduce throughput time and human effort. Continuous flow is producing and moving one item at a time (or a small batch of items) through a series of processes as continuously as possible.

Flow is one of five key Lean Principles identified by Womack and Jones in their book Lean Thinking. They stressed that you need to make value flow. It was this creation of flow that would make it possible to eliminate waste. When material and information flow continuously, there is less waste in the system. This is true by definition. If there were a lot of waste, material and information would not be flowing.

The most important thing in creating flow is having a vision of what that means. For me I think that requires having some “No” thinking.

No inventory
No subassemblies
No holding containers
No material handling
No backflow or rework
No defects
No inspection
No paperwork
No computer transactions/systems
No downtime
No delays
No cost

Many will say these are not possible within their organization or industry for that matter. But that would miss the point, which is vision: you may not get there within your lifetime, but try – others certainly will.

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1 comment:

  1. hi Tim! You hit it on the bulls-eye. I have worked the flow principle both in different industries as well as in logistics, and it's achievable to have all the NOs you enumerate. The principle in industry is identical to logistics. You go into a 'cross-docking' operations where you avoid a lot of the unnecessary circuits and end up with no downtime, no delays, no cost.