Fundamentals of Great Cell Design

Work design is more and more critical as space becomes a new constraint for businesses trying to keep people safely distanced from each other.  Great cell design has some proven fundamentals that have stood the test of time, and while simple, are so valuable for creating efficient work design that safely produces a quality product on time at the rate of customer demand.

Separate Production from Material Handling

One of the first fundamentals of the geography of a good cell design is the idea of separating material handling from production.  This may seem overly simple, but the impact is measurable.  The idea is to create a U-shaped cell with the production workers producing the product inside the cell and the raw material or sub assembly parts being supplied from outside the cell.

The obvious benefit is no interruption from parts being delivered, but even more important is the visual of what parts are needed and when.  A key element of a well-designed work cell is the “feel” of production. When all of the parts are delivered from the outside, a bystander can see the activity and recognize when parts arrive and when they are missing or late.

Sliding shelves, chutes, and parts presentation

Another advantage of presenting parts from the outside is to the natural tendency to want to have the parts slide, or move from the outside to the inside.  Imagine delivering a steering wheel to a production line of little toy cars.  It would not make as much sense to just throw a stack of steering wheels into a box for the operator to sort through, instead you could have  a pole that is slanted with a stop at the end that allows the material handler to load each steering wheel individually for the operator to just grab and go.

The added advantage of this is that now they can be sequenced and if the cell is a mixed model line the steering wheel for the next car can be ready when needed.

The clear delineation between material hander’s responsibility and the operator’s

Material handlers have the responsibility to supply the parts and present them in a fashion that is easy for the operator to grab and go.  This becomes more and more obvious when designed into the cell.  Again, it creates a “feel” for the material hander’s contribution to the work.  It is easy to see when the operator is struggling and places the task on the material hander to think of how to make locating and grabbing the correct part easier.

Help your organization understand the fundamentals of good cell design.  It starts with a geography that is in the shape of a U and has material presented from the outside.








Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

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