Pull/ Single Piece Flow

Pull/ Single Piece Flow

Pull is a way of reducing the effort involved in planning and scheduling production - controlling production to only produce what is required by downstream processes in time for when it is required. Pull will put in place standard and set work in progress (and so is part of Standardised Work), avoiding Over Production (the worst of the 7 Wastes). Techniques such as Kanban (a virtual or tangible ticket based method for controlling inventory and production) are used to implement Pull.

Single Piece Flow on the other hand will reduce the standard work in progress, which in turn improves stock turns and return on working capital employed, and delivers improved lead times and responsiveness.

Implementing Single Piece Flow will often involve the elimination of bottlenecks caused by production campaigns driven by long changeover times. Therefore Changeover Reduction techniques are often required to enable a change to Single Piece Flow, and can be initiated by a Value Stream Mapping activity or similar diagnostic activity.

Moving towards Pull and Single Piece Flow will deliver improvements in:

  • Control of and then reduction in inventory and work in progress
  • A step up in quality due to increased visibility and therefore fixing of quality issues
  • A reduction in lead time
  • And, counterintuitively, an increase in throughput

As with all Lean tools, Pull and Single Piece Flow originate in the automotive sector. Implementing them outside of that sector requires a good grasp on the principles and the ability to apply those principles to each new environment and not be hide bound by previous solutions. Feel free to contact us to explore how Pull and Single Piece Flow might be implemented in your business or enterprise.