Creating cells is a powerful Lean technique that helps build a variety of products with as little waste as possible. Equipment and workstations are arranged in a sequence that supports a smooth flow of materials, components or work through the process, with minimal transport or waiting.
Arranging people and equipment into cells helps organisations achieve two important goals of Lean systems; one-piece flow and high-variety operations.
A cell consists of the people and the machines or workstations required for performing the steps in a process or process segment, with the machines arranged in the processing sequence.
One Piece Flow: The goals of one-piece flow are to make one part at a time all the time, without unplanned interruptions, and to achieve this without lengthy queue times.
High-Variety Operations: Cells offers companies the flexibility to give customers the variety they want. It does this by grouping similar products into families that can be processed on the same equipment or workstation in the same sequence.
Common benefits associated with cells include:
- Work In Process reduction
- Optimal Space utilisation
- Product or Service Lead time reduction
- Productivity improvement
- Quality improvement
- Enhanced teamwork and communication
- Enhanced operational flexibility and visibility
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