Strategos Lean Briefing

The Newsletter of Lean Manufacturing Strategy
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September 11,  2003             

Cellular Manufacturing-- Even In A Job Shop!

How Group Technology Tames The Variety Beast

It often seems that workcells only apply to simple product mixes. But companies with hundreds or thousands of products can still use Cellular Manufacturing. In fact, the job-shop is where cellular manufacturing originated.

High-variety, low-volume situations require sophisticated analysis and the resulting workcells are quite different than Toyota's simple U-shape cells that are so familiar from the Lean Manufacturing literature.

Group Technology unravels these complex product-process mixes. GT focuses on similarities in products. It streamlines manufacturing, design and many other activities.

The most important role for Group Technology is the formation of part families from hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of seemingly unique products. Each family uses a group of machines for its manufacture and this machine group forms the nucleus of a workcell.

Our introductory web page on GT explains and illustrates the concept with a striking photograph. From there, you can explore three tools for analysis:

Intuitive Grouping

Production Flow Analysis

Coding and Classification.

Our next issue explores the differences between simple U-shape Toyota workcells and the more complex Group Technology cells. See you then.

Quarterman Lee

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