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Sequential Production

Sequential Production


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Most practitioners cringe when the lean manufacturing 
guru talks about the lot size of “one.” Many can’t 
relate to it because of the complexity of their 
operations. How do we go from an MRP shop order, 
“launch and expedite,” manufacturing environment to 
continuous “lot size of one,” production? No one said 
it would be easy, but again, how do you eat an elephant?

If you have a hard time visualizing how you get to the 
lot size of “one”, be sure to read this weeks article, 
“Sequential Production: The Lot Size of One, Rules!”

Have a nice day, keep the faith, and stay connected.

Bill Gaw
Business Basics, LLC


Now serving over 4423 subscribers

Competitive Knowledge for Manufacturing People 

The Lot Size of “One,” RULES!

Effective shop floor control has proven elusive as we 
have upgraded our manufacturing control system from 
MRP to MRPII and then to ERP. To capture control of 
shop floor activities, we need to stop beating a "dead 
horse" and start implementing and improving the 
Sequential Production Process. The winners are!

It takes more than systems sophistication for 
manufacturing companies to gain control of factory 
operations. To achieve on-time shipments at healthy 
profit margins, companies need to continuously 
improve obsolete MRPII/ERP shop order "launch and 
expedite" systems with the simplicity of sequential 

The assertion that sequential production only works in 
high production, widget-manufacturing environments is 
a myth. Leading low-volume, "make-to-order" 
manufacturers are improving schedule flexibility, 
customer responsiveness and profit margins by 
developing and implementing the Sequential Production 

Henry Ford first introduced sequential production at 
his River Rouge operation in 1920. Using sequential 
production as a basis for his production line concept, 
the Ford plant was able to go from receipt of iron 
ore to casting the engine block, and to shipment of 
the machined engine block in a final assembled car in 
an astonishing forty-eight hours. Ford's success, 
however, was limited by a manufacturing philosophy 
that called for the absolute power of a management 

Today the success of sequential production is in the 
hands of production workers and team dynamics. Product 
build/test operations content and sequencing, 
production tools and instructions, logistic layouts 
and cycle time targets are some of the responsibilities 
of the line worker in today's sequential production 

The improvement of speed, quality, costs are all placed 
within the responsibility and control of the production 
worker through team dynamics.

Sequential production is neither an inventory control 
system, nor a replacement for MRP. It is an organized 
and focused assault on production flexibility, speed, 
quality and costs. It is a process that requires total 
employee involvement and participation in the continuous 
improvement of manufacturing performance. It focuses on 
cycle time reduction via reduced lot sizes and setup 
times, preventative maintenance, workplace integrity, 
visual scheduling and worker flexibility. Sequential 
production tools and techniques include process 
capabilities, reduced process variances, causal analyses 
with root cause determination and relevant corrective 

While starting a sequential production project at the 
end of the production process is good advice, one heavy 
equipment manufacturer started at the front because 
they could never start a customer's machine build on 
time as they always had to wait for the machine's 
welded base structure to be finished. The excuses for 
the delay: late shop order releases, raw materials 
shortages, no one told us to start, and it's a huge, 
complex, time consuming project. 

We decided to break the machine structure build process 
into a six-station sequential production work cell: 

1) raw materials prep, 
2) sub-assembly welding, 
3) frame welding, 
4) tank build/installation, 
5) manifold build/installation and 
6) painting. 

The plan was to set the lot size to one and to flow 
the work from one station to the next using visual 
scheduling and point-of-use logistics. 

To everyone's surprise and delight, not only did this 
new production process make life easier for the weld 
shop personnel, it increased productivity and improved 
quality and eventually even reduced inventories. But 
most important, customer lead-times were reduced 
because machines no longer had to wait for the welded 
base structure.

A good approach to Sequential Production Process 
implementation is first to train all workers in the 
continuous improvement process (kaizen) and team 
dynamics. Next is to select a logical pilot project 
that would be carried out in advance of the rest of 
the plant "roll-out". The project should provide an 
area that can be isolated from material flows in the 
rest of the plant, but with production processes 
similar to the rest. The objective is to gain a quick 
success before "roll-out' to convince the skeptics 
that it is the way to go. 



To help you and your company improve manufacturing 
performance, I have extracted the "Sequential 
Production" Training Module from my e-Tutorial, 
"Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing" and it's now 
available to you and your company on CD.

This training module is in the form of a PowerPoint 
presentation with expert commentary and annotated 
footnotes by yours truly ... it's like attending one 
of my seminars in person, as I guide you personally 
through the process. It can be used as a self-paced at 
your place e-learning tool or as a PowerPoint training 
presentation for self-directed work teams.

If you're interested in viewing the special offer, 
copy the below URL to your browser and click on GO:


To preview twenty 1-2 hours PowerPoint® Training Presentations on CDs with expert commentary by Bill Gaw, click below:

World Class Manufacturing Training


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