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Lean Production Bench Basics

The operators may move fast on the production line, make straightforward repetitive tasks and put their best effort into it … this is by far not the fastest production technics. And a camera or a supervisor shouting on his shoulder will not help further

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The Touch-Move Rule

In production also, both for manual and automated assembly, apply the chess game principle:

Once a piece has been touched, it must be played!

repetitive simple steps is not the fastest production method
Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times – 1936

Same in production, simple, repetitive steps are not the fastest.

Do not release a component until it has been fully mounted; do not release to temporary stock or workplace a finished subassembly, but mount it directly to its main assembly.

This is the main gain in the envelope game above: taking, then releasing, then taking again (…) the envelopes are clearly the waste -the Muda-.

The gain that ones would think about making the task much simpler & repetitive is simply not there compared to the additional operation.

 One-piece flow versus mass production is best demonstrated by:

YouTube player

Production Flexibility Technics

Henry Ford in the 1900s:

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”

in My Life and Work (1922)

While being part of a logical production evolution, that logic is not the most adapted anymore to most modern market segments. Competitor, time to market, customer demand, and low inventory (…) make flexibility one of the main criteria in today’s production:

  • Flexibility on the volume of production
  • flexibility on the products themselves: variants, customizations

Here is a review of different technics, from simple to complex to meet flexibility on the product and the production volume. But keep in mind that the two likely have to be combined

Flexibility in the Production capacity

 Methodpicture or example  +– 

operating on several shifts

1 to 3 shifts

+ week-ends eventually 


human increase


one of the oldest methods, relatively easy to implement

can be extended to weekends

no need for more investments

as long as you have qualified resources available; usually best operators are spread between the shifts in between less or no-experienced operators

sometimes a supervision problem (night shifts) and/or quality variations.

flexible only to a certain extent: for very big factories in western countries, not too much a flexible mean (big amount of workers suddenly with no work)

doubling or more) the production line


equipment increase


 should be done only when the initial investment possibility is just on the limit (typical: start-ups); and even in such case, there is likely another solution below that could be adapted

or visibility of future production is very low

backup if (and even, in this case, predictive maintenance should be preferred)

 doubling investments, settings, controls

possible product variation


Flexibility on the products themselves -variants- within the same line

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