Step 7 – Balance the Workload
What is a Balanced Workload?
When a company has started to see improvements to its process flow, it needs to focus on balancing the workload. Unevenness in the process flow will still be a problem at this stage in their lean implementation. Two factors cause the problem, unbalanced work content and fluctuations in customer demand. It is important to find ways to balance out these two factors to level the production and improve process flow.
How is it possible to balance the workload?
There are three things that have a direct impact on balancing the production workload: 1. The amount of work content at each operation involved in the overall process. 2. Fluctuations in customer demand, which starve or overburden the production process. 3. An ability to implement “heijunka” or “production smoothing” to overcome these problems.
What is the process to create a balanced workload?
A business must implement a workplace organization process, improve process flow, reduce changeover times and implement a pull system. These will help to stabilize the production system. Next, complete time studies on work content at each workstation. Evenly distribute the workload between the workstations. Once the work content has been balanced, implement heijunka or production smoothing. Determine customer demand, that is what’s needed and when it’s needed and schedule the work in small kanban quantities. This will mean holding a little extra inventory at certain times but the production flow should be balanced with less fluctuations.
Here is an introduction video from our Level 2 – Lean Practitioner online training course: