Production Leveling

The Key to Lean Production and Smooth Operations and Production Leveling

Production Leveling is both a philosophy and a production operational state. The philosophy means that orders come in at the same rate they are fulfilled. This is the ideal situation. Whether it refers to patients into and out of a hospital or orders for a weed eater matching the production schedule. Takt Time is the production rate needed to meet incoming orders. Ideally, your system will operate a little faster than the Takt Time.

If Your System is not Operating Smooth

Let’s say you want to move your mass production system to Lean Production and know its performance is improved by smooth operations. Your situation may be that sometimes you make too much and other times too little. When you make too little you must run over-time and if too much, throttle back operations. There is only so much that you can do to change customer buying behavior like marketing campaigns. Whether you can keep operations smooth with constant customer sales or you can’t. If you can’t, at least you can protect your System’s operations by Production Leveling.

How do I Production Level?

It is unlikely that anybody’s system is absolutely perfect. So some sort of Production Leveling would help almost any System. Even Toyota, which builds to order, will have order variation. The best concept that I know of is using something called a Sorter. Think of it as a concept. The input is customer orders and the output is the Production Level solution. The Sorter output smooths production.

Let’s say your Takt Time is one minute as an example. Then your customer is purchasing on average, one car a minute. Let’s also say that you can also produce one car a minute. If your customer generally wants, on average, 20 Camrys, 15 Forerunners, and 25 Tercels per hour. Then the sorter solution may be 4 Camrys, 3 Forerunners, and 5 Tercels per batch. With 5 batches per hour. As customer demand deviates from the predefined ratio, the ratio of cars will change. If your customer demand is relatively flat, then you can plan maybe a month or two into the future.

Production Leveling Conclusion

Often times Production Leveling artificially creates a smooth production schedule that really helps production. With a Sorter, you can adjust production to compensate for customer purchasing time variations. It is a valuable tool and will also help the Mass Production system by providing a closer connection to the customer demand.