The Four Steps in Cell Design

The rapidly changing work environment and restrictions from the need to create safe distances between team members has created a new constraint out of space.  We need to figure out how to produce the same amount of volume in the same amount of space, but keep everyone safely apart.  That is the role of work design.

How do we design the work of an area in a way that achieves safe distancing, meets customer demand, and uses the same amount of space.

One work design strategy is to create a manufacturing cell.

There are four basic steps required in effective cell design.

There is an expectation based on takt time

Building an effective manufacturing cell starts with understanding the expectation of the cell.  This is often thought of in terms of Takt time.  It answers a simple question of how many products have to be produced in a certain amount of time.  This will establish the pace of the cell and establish a foundation for designing the work area and dividing the work content.

There is standardized work that exists proving the expectation can be met

Each product produced in the new manufacturing cell has to have properly defined standardized work. A document that outlines in appropriate detail the work content, sequence, timing, location , and expected outcome.  This will likely vary from product to product and a mixed model line is very possible, but the details for these elements need to be understood.

The manufacturing cell is paced and there is a method to catch up in the moment

Starting with the takt time, or demand over a period of time, we understand the pace the cell has to produce.  For example, we may need 30 widgets in 30 minutes, therefore we know we need 1 widget every minute.  The cell we design will have to be able to produce, ON AVERAGE, at least on widget every minute.  The reason we emphasize, on average, is because some widgets may take more or less then 1 minute to produce so sequencing to make sure the average is 1 minute will be important in establishing the pace. (see heijunka)

The pace is critical to meeting customer demand so consideration in setting up the work stations has to be given to how the cell catches up when it falls behind.  Typically this is simply a matter of adding a work station for someone to jump in an help.

An activity level Daily Management system is used to measure the progress againt plan to identify problems

The best planned manufacturing cell will have problems. They are an inevitable part of any process, but an effective manufacturing cell will have a way to see them quickly and solve them when they are small.  Activity level daily management systems make this visible and usually catch problems within the hour.

We all have a challenge to produce more with less. It has always been there, but now space has added to the challenge.  It is a challenge that can be met with proven work design methods like manufacturing cells.

Help your organization understand the four steps necessary to create an effective manufacturing cell.








Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

Latest posts by Brian Kurtyka (see all)

Speak Your Mind