ONE PIECE FLOW
One piece flow is also known as single flow or continuous flow. Simply put, one-piece flow entails that various parts or products are moved from step to step through operations with a zero work-in-process (WIP) in between either a small batch at a time or one piece at a time. This is a kind of system that works very well in combination with a cellular layout. In this type of layout, all the necessary equipment needed is located within a cell and in the sequence in which it is used. The goal of every lean manufacturing is to achieve one piece flow in every operation possible. This is because achieving one piece flow involves the elimination of waste.
THE DIFFERENCE WITH BATCH PRODUCTION
Many of the wastes that are common with batch production like transportation and waiting are reduced greatly when using one piece flow.
Defects are not detected easily with batch production while the reverse is the case for one piece flow.
One Piece Flow is faster than batch production and this speed allows to wait longer and schedule the order properly.
APPLICATION IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
One Piece Flow is also important in software development because it ensures that the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is duly followed. By taking each process step by step the software is tested at intervals to know if it’s going according to plan. If it doesn’t it can be worked upon further by the programmers.
BENEFITS OF ONE PIECE FLOW
REDUCTION OF INVENTORY
Applying one piece flow basically means that each operation will only be required to produce what is needed by the next operation. No more no less. By doing this, inventory will not be allowed to pile up.
DOES NOT REQUIRE MUCH SPACE
As a result of the reduced inventory levels, less manpower will be required to manage it. Much space will not also be needed to carry this out. In addition, single piece flow usually results in cells which squeeze machines together and make it easy for a single operator to oversee, coordinate and organise many pieces of equipment with a reduced amount of effort.
PRODUCTS WITH FEW DEFECTS AND INCREASED QUALITY
There is always a reduced opportunity to manufacture products with defects because the batch size will be only one and there will not be loads of inventory to sort out. Therefore, if a product has defects, it can be easily picked out and looked upon thereby improving quality.
A SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL
Since there is less inventory, every equipment and tool can be placed properly to avoid accidents. One of the causes of accidents in work places today is as a result of equipment not put in the proper place or overcrowded workstation.
IMPROVES OVERALL EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE
Employees are able to receive immediate response on their work since any production problem will be easily identified and resolved immediately. Team members will know for sure how well they are doing and how they can improve if need be.
Equipment can be designed smaller and with lower cost with one piece flow.
DISADVANTAGES OF ONE PIECE FLOW
One of the major criticisms of One Piece Flow is it’s inability to work when the transfer time begins to approach the work time.
Another problem is it’s inability to work with certain processes. An example of such process is shot blasting.
One Piece Flow is not also productive when a cell has to address a wide product variety with various routes, setup times and work times.
— Slimane Zouggari