Line Balance

Leaders know that looking for hidden waste is a daily and never ending objective. See the Time Chart and review the content. Assume that this operation is staffed with 4 people. (Molding and Cooling Times are automated). What are the opportunities for cost reduction here?

The Time Chart

STACKING LABOR

The pacemaker process (longest cycle time) is the molding operation. This means that any subsequent operation could theoretically take as long as the pacemaker and still be complete before the next part comes out. The problem with this mindset is that we accept that each subsequent process is 100% labor absorbed. In the charted example, it should be fairly obvious that if label and pack could be combined that 1 unit of labor could be saved. (Thus reducing the need to hire additional labor for other processes in the organization).

By getting in the mindset that the process was quoted for 4 (and it is making money) these opportunities are frequently missed.

MAKE LINE BALANCING A REQUIREMENT FOR LABOR REQUESTS

Leaders know that line balancing should be part of an organizations regular review. One great way to ensure that labor stays in check is to FORCE a line balance exercise each time additional labor is requested. If the data does not support additional labor, then it should not be provided.

KEEPING LABOR TIGHT IS GOOD FOR YOUR WORKFORCE

Leaders know that excess labor is a recipe for future layoffs. Keeping labor tight keeps the workforce challenged to find improvements, ensures layoffs are minimized, and reduces communication chain loss. It is almost always better to invest in the process and cross train the workforce as opposed to specializing the labor base.

MORE AT STAKE THAN LABOR UTILIZATION

Leaders care about the future of the organization. Layoffs and frequent onboarding can destroy organizational culture. Line balancing is a stabilizing process that can secure culture.