Lean RFS (Repetitive Flexible Supply): Putting the Pieces Together, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Lean RFS (Repetitive Flexible Supply)

Putting the Pieces Together, 1st Edition

By Ian Fraser Glenday, Rick Sather

Productivity Press

152 pages | 56 B/W Illus.

Shingo Award Winner
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781466578197
pub: 2013-05-20
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429254475
pub: 2018-07-31
from $117.00

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Is it possible to be repetitive and flexible—at the same time? Using proven examples and quantifiable evidence, Lean RFS (Repetitive Flexible Supply): Putting the Pieces Together demonstrates that repetitive flexible supply (RfS) is not only possible, but that its implementation can help you reach a new level of improved performance in manufacturing and across your entire supply chain.

Winner of a 2013 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award, this book is unique in that it clearly spells out the theory and practice originally published in the Shingo Prize winner, Breaking Through to Flow, with actual stories of Kimberly-Clark’s experience in using them over the years with great success. These stories provide a real feel of how this learning-by-doing journey led to "aha!" moments for those involved.

The book also explains why most planning systems in use today will result in a different plan every time, and that these plan changes are actually the cause of the fire fighting that is endemic in most companies.


I saw the positive impact that RFS has on people and performance at two previous companies – Wrigley and Bacardi. I have high expectations that we’ll see huge improvements through RFS here, once again.

—John Broadbridge, VP of Production, The Carlsberg Group

RFS brought smaller production runs, increased performance, lower stocks and stability that is so important for building a continuous improvement culture. It is being adopted by many affiliates across Philip Morris International with great success.

—Krzysztof Stolarek, Manager Production, Philip Morris, Polska S.A.

This book is the missing link in many Lean journeys.

—Daniel T. Jones, Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy UK

RFS is an important part of a Lean Six Sigma journey and has brought stability for sustainable continuous improvement. RfS and its principles are being used in multiple parts of the supply chain to improve flow and business results.

—Kevin Smith, Director, Business Process Transformation, Kraft Foods Group

What is remarkable is that so few companies or people have arrived at this understanding of heijunka. I have stumbled across no-one, until you, who has discovered this on their own. I think, as you suggest, more people should be able to understand these concepts.

—John Shook CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute USA

The importance of creating schedule stability through green stream RfS logic cannot be overstated – it drives customer service and Supply Chain inventory and cost improvements all at the same time.

—Steve Ackroyd, Lean Manager & Six Sigma Coach, 3M

Table of Contents

Twenty-Five Years at Kimberly-Clark

Does This Sound Familiar?

Do You Face This?

Have You Done This?

Have You Experienced This?

Searching for a Step Change

Summary of Chapter 1

The Fundamentals of Lean/RfS

A Brief History

The Key Components of Lean/RfS

Batch Logic Issue

Alternative Logic of Flow

Lean and Leveled Production

Economies of Repetition

Glenday Sieve

Central Limit Theory and Buffer Tanks


Summary of Chapter 2

How It Can Be

Some Examples and Anecdotes

Impact on Behavior

Impact on Problem Solving

Impact on Results

Green and Beige People

Policy Deployment

Squash Quosh

Stages in a Lean Transformation

Summary of Chapter 3

The Lean/RfS Corner Pieces

Changing from Batch to Flow

Batch Logic Is Bad

What Is "Responsiveness"?

Calculating the Schedule

Buffer Tank Calculation and Rules

A Lesson in Setting Accurate Buffer Tank Limits

Integrating Lean/RfS into Existing Processes and Systems

Some Results

Summary of Chapter 4

The Lean/RfS Straight Edges

RfS-Dependent Straight Edges

Material—and Other—Flows

Blues and Reds

Lean/RfS Product Costing

Applying RfS Principles Across the Business

Other Straight Edges Supporting Lean/RfS in the Business

Policy or Strategy Deployment?

Strategy Deployment

Key Aspects of Strategy Deployment That Helped Achieve a Transformation in the Way KC Operated

The Difference between Traditional Strategic Planning versus Strategy Deployment

Lean Leadership

Four Rules of Lean

Summary of Chapter 5

The Lean/RfS Center Pieces


Schedule Breaks

How to Measure Conformance to Plan

Time versus Quantity


Summary of Chapter 6

Putting the Pieces Together

Timeline for the Stages in a Lean Transformation

Opportunities for Kimberly-Clark

The 5-Day Rapid Implementation Approach

Stretching Lean/RfS

Forces against Flow

Lean/RfS Fundamental Beliefs

Summary of Chapter 7


Recommended Reading

Appendix A


About the Authors

Ian Glenday started his Lean journey as a microbiologist running a plant producing enzymes from deep-culture fermentation of bacteria. It was here that Ian first began developing RfS concepts and principles for application in process industries.

After taking time out to gain an MBA from Bradford Business School in the UK, Ian joined the manufacturer Reckitt & Colman, where he led an MRPII project To Class A status in the company’s pharmaceutical division. This experience offered Ian a valuable lesson in understanding why applying batch logic in MRP can cause problems.

Ian then moved to Reckitt & Colman’s household and toiletries division, where he initiated and helped implement a pan-European supply chain strategy based on the Lean concept of "every product every cycle," before joining Colman’s of Norwich as head of policy deployment, responsible for applying Lean/RfS thinking across the entire company.

Ian currently divides his time between working with Professor Dan Jones at the Lean Enterprise Academy, UK, where he is a senior fellow, and helping businesses around the world make their own Lean transformations through his company Repetitive flexible Supply Ltd.

Rick Sather is vice president, customer supply chain, for Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s North America Consumer Products Division. In this role, he is responsible for service and efficient product flow from the end of manufacturing through the customer’s retail shelf.

Originally from Wisconsin, Rick received a BS degree in industrial technology from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1985, and for the past twenty-seven years has worked in a wide range of supply chain roles. Rick’s Lean journey began in 2005 when he first connected with Ian and began implementing Lean/RfS at Kimberly-Clark. Learning and applying Lean/RfS in direct-line roles has enabled Rick to establish a problem-solving culture focused on delivering exceptional outcomes for people, customers, and shareholders alike.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Purchasing & Buying