The Advantage of 1×1

World class organizations define continuous improvement as a constant pursuit of the ideal. They define the ideal as safely producing, 1 x 1, defect free, on-demand with an immediate response. The idea is to supply a customer with what they need one at a time, at the highest quality, immediately when the customer asks for it, ensuring the safety of the supplier, customer and environment.

Traditional operations will not argue with the benefits of safety and often see quality as a necessity for any market. They understand the need to have the product immediately available when the customer wants it, but few see benefits of producing the product or service one at a time. Often, they are overcome by the temptation and apparent human nature to produce in batches. Customers often do not help by ordering in large batches and when they feel they will not get what they want, they order larger batches.

There are three tremendous advantages to producing 1 x 1 that make it worthy of a continuous pursuit; fewer defects and scrap, shorter lead-time for a finished product, and less space for inventory.

Fewer Defects and Scrap

A 10-year-old boy, eager to be his own boss, talked his parents into purchasing a button machine. A simple mechanical process with a tiny punch to cut a circle out of paper and a hand powered press to crimp the front and back of the buttons into a finished product. The young entrepreneur quickly learned how to make a template in Microsoft Word that allowed him to print out logos, sayings and tiny pictures to turn into buttons.

After printing all 11 sheets of paper with sayings like; Go Team, and pictures of emojis, the boy was convinced would be a sure hit, he took the stack of paper and began using the small punch to punch out the circles he had created in Word. Eleven sheets of paper with 6 circles on each yielded 66 cutouts ready to be pressed into buttons.

He quickly learned on the first button that the punch press was set to a smaller button setting then he had plates and backs for, leaving him with 66 circles he could not complete today.

The young boy learned a valuable benefit of 1 x 1. Had he built the first button from beginning to end he would have quickly realized that he needed to adjust the punch press setting. A simple example, but all too real in so many operations.

Shorter lead-time for a finished product

Having learned the setting for the punch press the young man took his show on the road. His new value proposition was now customized buttons made at the point of sale. He had blank templates of the circle that his peers could color, write, or decorate to their liking and then he would press it into a button. The idea was a hit and a batch of friends all swarmed his table, decorated a template and then all returned for a button.

The young man gathered all the sheets of paper and began punching out the circles. There were 15 sheets turned in and some with two and three designs. The boy punched and punched and punched until he had roughly 28 perfectly shaped circles on the table.

The highly excited audience pointed and shuffled the pile each asking that theirs be first or next. He would make a random selection and as quickly as possible press it into a button. He placed the button to the side but asked that the owner not take it until he was able to collect the $1 and put it in a bag with his business card. Buttons piled up and patience grew thin. Finally, parents began telling their children it was time to go and finished products were left unsold.

Less Space for Inventory

Almost exactly like the button shop a small lamp manufacturing company purchases large quantities of castings to build their finished product. One of the steps in building the lamp is drilling and tapping holes in the roofs and side plates. Faced with the same temptations as the young businessman the company drills and taps all the roofs and side plates as soon as they are received from the foundry.

Just like the button shop, they are exposed to the risk of scrap and during peak season are unintentionally expanding their lead-time. But a hidden loss is the space required to store not only the raw castings, but new the drilled and tapped castings. Not only in the warehouse, but on the shop floor as they are processed. The piles are pulled from and returned to the warehouse shelves in two different locations as they are two different parts; one raw, and one machined (with two different part numbers).

Help your organization see the benefits of producing 1 x1 – reducing scrap, shortening lead-time, and freeing up space!

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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