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Process and flow management: how to combine these?

Much has been written and said about the functional organization of the production structure and the organization of a continuous single-piece flow that is preferred to the former. IPL Consulting experts do not juxtapose these two principles, but rather propose considering some steps to transition from the functional principle of production organization to the organization of a single-piece flow – based on the fact that such a transition would certainly bring a significant positive economic effect for many enterprises.

An excerpt from published material:

Pros and cons of the production systems under consideration

The conceptual pattern of the production system (PS) can be defined by the way of combining the operational elements (machines, work centers) into an organizational unit (a workshop section , a workshop), production route organization, and management methods for a wide product range. There are two accepted alternatives and defining options, as follows:

The process-based (or functional) organization, where machines of the same type of operations (e. g. turning, grinding) are grouped for work with the entire enterprise product range over all the routes, which is more appropriate for single-piece and small-batch production type. 

The product-based (or flow-based) organization, where machines are grouped according to the unity (proximity) of processing routes, which usually corresponds to one product range group. It corresponds to mass and large-batch production type. 

In practice, the most common is a mixed production system with flow management of the assembly process and process-based parts production management. Let us compare the advantages gained by product-based (flow-based) management and process-based management for similar loads and equipment productivity (see Table).

It is intuitive for practicing managers that a product-based (flow-based) production system is preferable. However, in the settings of the diversity of product ranges and, accordingly, conditions of small-batch production, it is not always possible to organize an ‘ideal’ flow in practice since the range of mechanical processing products at Russian plants is quite large.

The complete publication can be requested from the IPL Consulting marketing department or found on the website of the Intelligent Manufacturing magazine