Monday, October 31, 2011

Single Piece Flow vs Batch Production - Stuffing Envelopes

When you have only one person in a work cell, what are the benefits of single piece flow? What's the difference between running in batch mode, or running one piece at a time? There's no inventory to build up between operations, so is there a benefit?

The video below shows a simple operation, stuffing envelopes, done with one person. You can compare the single piece flow version with the batch version, since they are being produced side by side.

Although there are four people in the video, they're working independently, so there's really only two processes to compare. On the right, the participants are stuffing envelopes one at a time, finishing each one completely before starting the next envelope.

The people on the left are batching the envelopes. First folding all the papers, then putting them in the envelopes, and then sealing them all.

You can immediately see the difference, with the "one at a time" process producing finished envelopes earlier. There's a huge benefit to the customer, since the lead time to delivery is significantly faster.

This is a simple exercise to perform in a training session using items commonly found in any office.

I've added this game to my list of lean games and simulations.

Don't forget to tell everyone about yourself on my introduction page!

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