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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Using U Shaped Cells

Generally a horseshoe or U-Shaped work area layout that enables workers to easily move from one process to another in close proximity and pass parts between workers with little effort. Work cells do not need to be in a U-shaped configuration though this is often common due to maximizing product throughput with minimal use of space.

The layout of workcells in a U shape has several advantages:

  • The IN and OUT are close, allowing visual control and management, according to the production takt, a single person can handle both the cell input feeding and output
  • The shortening of distances allow sharing of work, as well as reduction of transportation waste
  • These layouts provide convenient foundation for one piece flow
  • Communication among team mates in the cell is easier
  • The work is done inside the U, supplies remain outside
  • Usually machines and tables are on rollers (if possible) for quick reconfiguration
  • The floor space is generaly fewer with a U cell than stretched line (including inventories and supplies), walk distances are also reduced, as they are Muda (waste).
Paul Akers from FastCap shared some thoughts and examples of U shaped cells from his company in this video:

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