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Is one-piece flow the holy grail in the manufacturing industry?

Met regelmaat wordt one-piece flow toegepast in de assemblage-oplossingen van Total Productivity. Maar wat is one-piece flow en is dit altijd de beste oplossing? Alex Valkering, Sales & Marketing Manager bij TP (Lean Black Belt certified), legt het u uit.


Als een product of kleine batch door een proces stroomt zonder stil te staan wordt dit one-piece-flow genoemd. Het product of de subassemblage wordt dan eerst helemaal afgemaakt voordat er aan een nieuw product begonnen wordt. Doordat de processtappen elkaar snel opvolgen komen de goederen niet stil te liggen. Dit wordt binnen de Lean filosofie gezien als de beste manier om producten te realiseren.

In de praktijk

Bij productie van meer complexe producten is dit the oplossing om te besparen op (tussen)voorraden, snelle levertijden te realiseren en snel in te spelen op gewijzigde situaties. Een goed voorbeeld uit ons portfolio is de firma SAG Alutech Nederland die ordergestuurd brandstoftanks voor vrachtwagens produceert en assembleert.

The end customer of the truck can make adjustments just before assembly, so that a different type of fuel tank has to be supplied. It is up to Alutech to supply the right tank at the right time. In such a situation, one-piece flow is the solution. By linking the system to the truck supplier's ERP system, you know exactly which type of tank is needed and when. Order-specific work instructionsandquality control, parts are only used for current products. As a result, there is no disruption and Alutech can deliver on time.

Quality as a starting point

Customer-specific and fast delivery time seem to bite each other in theory, but with one-piece flow you can realize this in practice. Of course, this requires something from an organization. If you do not want intermediate stocks, quality is essential, because you cannot fall back on another product from stock if you have an incorrect end product. One-piece flow makes mistakes immediately visible. This forces employees in this process to correct errors immediately.

Crap in Trash Out (CITO)

Quality starts with the right data. If the stocks, orders and bills of materials are not correct, then as an organization you still have something to do before a Lean (one-piece) flow production. But a quality system is also necessary during production to stay in flow. You can adequately safeguard this with digital work instructions, inline and end-of-line control.

The Holy Grail

With a limited product variety, there is often no viable business case to implement one-piece flow, the necessary investment simply does not outweigh the benefits. It is best to think of more situations where you don't think of one-piece flow, but where other assembly solutions come into their own. One-piece flow is therefore definitely not a holy grail with which you can solve every production problem.


TP Concept Study

That is why we at Total Productivity look for the balance between People, Resources and Method in order to arrive at the best concept solutions. By analyzing all elements in the process, you arrive at a concept that best suits the situation. SunTP Concept Studyoften serves as the basis for the right investment application for new products or processes. But it can also provide answers to questions such as integration of one-piece-flow production with existing processes. In short, we first look at the situation (current and desired) and then come up with substantiated advice as to whether one-piece flow is the right way of producing and assembling.

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