May 28 2013

We’ve probably all seen that person, you might be “that person”, the one who drives right up behind you to get past only to get stuck behind the next person. They’re in a rush to get somewhere and they need to get by you and all the other drivers on the road to get there quick! How much time do they save? In real terms, how much quicker do they actually get to their destination? If it’s a long journey, then they might save a good bit, maybe 30 minutes, maybe more. If it is an average 30 minute journey, they are unlikely to save more than 5 minutes.

True, every minute can count, but this is a great example of what happens when you are trying to rush a job through your convoluted processes. When you have product or service flow, as in Lean flow, there is no need to rush jobs through because all products and services are being produced at regular intervals, flowing off the end of the line as they are needed. When you don’t have good flow, when you try to push something through to get it out for that rush order, it is just like that person in a rush to get somewhere on the motorway.

All the jobs in front are happily motoring along (or not) and each one has to move over to enable this job to get through. The effect on the other jobs is not insignificant, think about how you feel after having someone ride your tail on the motorway. The operator goes through the same emotions or worse having to stop one job, start & finish another and then go back to the original job. Each of the jobs in work also then gets delayed.

And the rush job, although it gets through faster than it would have if left alone, is unlikely to have gotten through the process as fast as it would have if all production were flowing at the appropriate pace (Takt). Not to mention the risks associated with driving like “that person” – accident? ticket? These exist when rushing a job through; poor quality, damage, incorrect parts, components, entire assembly (it has happened).

Focus on getting your processes flowing, from one process to the next, reducing and eventually eliminating the need to rush jobs through. By doing so you reduce the overall lead time of your products which in turn means your customers, employees, managers & accountant will be happier. You will generally increase capacity without increasing costs.


photo credit: via photopin cc

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