Although batching often appears more efficient than one-piece flow for individual tasks, the practice creates waste for other parts of the organization that more than offset its perceived benefits. A silent productivity killer, batching is an extremely difficult mindset to overcome and, as a result, numerous Lean initiatives have been destroyed by it.
This book argues the case for one-piece flow over batching. It identifies the eight root causes of batching, the wastes created from batching, how batching drives the eight wastes, and the advantages of one-piece flow.
One-Piece Flow vs. Batching: A Guide to Understanding How Continuous Flow Maximizes Productivity and Customer Value provides concrete arguments as to why batching, while sometimes necessary, is never the most efficient solution for most processes. It explains why flow, especially one-piece flow or continuous flow, should always be your ultimate objective when driving for increased productivity in any process.
Using case studies to illustrate how to channel current mindsets toward one-piece flow as the preferred operation, the book is designed to support anyone involved in continuous improvement activities. It provides the tools and understanding you will need to overcome resistance to implementing flow and, in particular, one-piece flow processes—whether it be on the factory floor or in a banking office.
Table of Contents
The Silent Productivity Killer
The Initial Source of Inspiration
What Is Batching?
A Brief Example of Batch vs. Flow
Who Batches … and What’s the Big Deal If It’s "Me?"
We All Batch
Types of Batching
Time Out 2
The CrossFit Story
I’m Going to Need a Few More Examples
Let’s Get into This a Little Deeper, Shall We?
A Very Detailed Comparison of Batching to One-Piece Flow
So, What Problems Are Created by Our Batching Example Listed Above?
When Do We Get Our First Pen?
What Is Flow?
How Does Batch Compare to One-Piece Flow?
So, What Differences Do We See between Batching and One-Piece Flow?
When Do We Get Our First Pen?
So Which System Is More Efficient?
How Do You Improve a Batch System?
What Impact Does Size Have?
What Impact Does This Smaller Lot Size Have?
The Eight Root Causes of Batching
How the Batch Process Occurs: Like It or Not,
Sometimes We Have to Batch—Or Do We?
Wow, You’re Right
The Eight Root Causes of Batching Continued
Why We Batch and Why It Hurts Our Company
What Problems Come with the Batching Paradox?
The One-Piece Flow Paradox
Light Shined on the Hidden Costs of Batching
Batching Is Bad!
Wherever There Is Excess Inventory, a Problem Is
Are You Working on What You Really Need?
Errors and Defects
When One Is Bad They Are All Bad
Batching Means Lost Opportunities
Which Came First, Batching or the Eight Wastes?
Batching Is the Root Cause of the Eight Wastes
The Easy Way Out
Debunking the Myths
Myth: Batching Is Quicker than One-Piece Flow
The One Time When Batching Is Actually Faster than
Myth: One-Piece Flow Will Make Us Robots!
Myth: Centralizing Is Better
Batching Is a Hard Habit to Break
"Batching Habit Story"
Batching vs. One-Piece Flow
Batching in Factories or Offices
Prebuilding and Outsourcing Are Forms of Batching!
Batching (Like One-Piece Flow) Is a System
How Do You Sustain One-Piece Flow?
Will People Pay More for One-Piece Flow?
Engineering Changes in a Batch System
The Human Factor of Why We Batch
Batch vs. Flow Example
One-Piece Flow vs. Small Lot
Parallel Processing vs. Batching
Another Example of Parallel Processing
The Gray Area between Batch and Flow: Group
True Mixed-Model Sequencing
One-Piece Flow Exercise
What Is Bumping?
Under the Rocks
Batching vs. Flow: What’s in It for You to Abandon the Batching Paradigm?
Are You Ready for One-Piece Flow?
Are You Ready for One-Piece Flow? A Case Study
Transitioning to a Flow-based Culture
One-Piece Flow Consulting
Charles Protzman, MBA, CPM, formed Business Improvement Group (B.I.G.) LLC in November 1997. B.I.G. is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and specializes in implementing Lean thinking principles and the Lean business delivery system—LBDS. Charles has over 34 years of experience in materials and operations management. He spent 13 and a half years with AlliedSignal, now Honeywell, where he was an aerospace strategic operations manager and the first AlliedSignal Lean master. He has received numerous special-recognition and cost-reduction awards.
Joe McNamara is president and chief executive officer of McNamara Holdings, which include TTarp Inc. Joe was formerly the vice president of Global Operations of ITT Control Technologies based in Valencia, California. Prior to becoming vice-president of operations, Joe was general manager of ITT Heat Transfer in Cheektowaga, New York. He led the introduction of Lean Six Sigma into the $400 M, ITT Fluid Handling Division as Six Sigma Champion with 12 Six Sigma Black Belts in the United States and Canada. Outside of work, Joe enjoys spending time with his wife, Karen, participating in ultra-marathons, and reading www.biglean.com.
Daniel Protzman has been the director of customer solutions for the Business Improvement Group since 2014. With four years’ experience in the health-care field, Daniel brings an interesting perspective to the company. Daniel’s previous medical recruiting and staffing company went through a major series of transitions in his tenure, where he was able to help guide the company in a positive direction. He was a source of knowledge for the process improvement team and eventually left that company to follow his true calling in continuous improvement. Daniel is a certified MBTI practitioner and holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech.
"I highly recommend One-Piece Flow vs Batching by Charlie Protzman, Joe McNamara, and Dan Protzman. ... The authors have put together a series of real life examples of one-piece flow vs batching that really highlight the waste that drives batching.
—Kenneth L. Skiles, Director, Continuous Improvement, Lincoln Electric
"I do recommend that you carefully study this book and recognize that batching must disappear to achieve one-piece flow if you want to compete in the world arena."
Norman Bodek, Owner, PCS Press
"This is the first book I have read that comprehensively confronts the ills of batching in a single volume and provides an alternative. It does so in language that is clear and accessible to all levels in an organization—from CEO to middle managers to workers on the shop floor! A great contribution to the ‘improving productivity’ agenda. Read it!"
—Augustus J. Lusack MSc, MBA, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt; Founder: ‘Why Not?’ Solutions Limited; Head of Pathology, Northampton General Hospital, UK
"This book is relevant to both newer students of Lean as well as seasoned Lean practitioners looking to gain an insightful understanding of a cause of much waste in our organizations, BATCHING. By presenting numerous examples from many different industries, readers will finish the book appropriately armed to first identify and then eliminate batching."
—Kenneth W. Place, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, University of Illinois BIS
"I am a batch-person. Whenever there is a chance to batch I have a certain tendency to do so. Charles Protzman’s book made me reconsider this position. I think this is the best one can say about any book. As a ‘good’ scientist I do not agree in all points; but I consider the arguments brought forward for one-piece flow convincing. It is not a dull repetition of you ‘should not batch’ but reasonable arguments against batching are developed. While this sounds not very exciting, practical examples and great writing style make it a very enjoyable read. In short - the authors successfully continue Ohno’s quest towards one-piece flow."
—Matthias Thürer, Professor, Jinan University, China
"I have spent 38 years in the steel industry in quality assurance, process control, and operations management and have been successful by finding ways to optimize performance by taking advantage of new technology, understanding and controlling process variation, and looking for opportunities to get more for less. Like the plant manager that Charlie dedicated this book to though, I have to admit that I still believe that in some industries there is cost savings to be had by increasing batch size. I would be the last guy to tell you that it might be efficient to make a heat of steel for each casting that you are producing. But I will admit the book makes you think about what the savings that could be possible if that was technically possible.
Charlie uses an example in the book of having to wait until you fill up the dishwasher and run the cycle before you get a clean plate. He challenges you to imagine if there was a dishwasher that does one place setting at a time. What a dumb idea, right? I was just in an innovation class where it was discussed that Whirlpool has been working on just such a device, but has not yet overcome the resistance to the cost of retrofitting it into current households. Their new strategy is to work with builders of new homes. Maybe not such a bad idea after all. If we stick to our old paradigms we may never see the opportunity to try something different.
Remember there are three stages to implementing change. The first stage is total resistance. When the idea first comes up it is always a really dumb idea. Giving up on economies of scale and our very nature to complete one task on all parts before moving on? After enjoying an easy read with some great examples and taking advantage of the workshop activities that Charlie has presented, you might make it to stage two in the change process; "hey this stuff may actually work". When you actually implement one piece flow and watch your inventories disappear, your quality improve, and your costs decrease, you will have made it to stage 3 in the change process."
—Jon Schumacher, Chief Operating Officer Wheel, Amsted Rail
"This is a must-read for everyone striving for Lean excellence! I guarantee that you will gain an awareness and a new perspective on some traditional processing practices. You will be motivated to accelerate your efforts in dismantling these wasteful batching methods and replacing them with the significantly more effective one-piece flow approach. Lean success is dependent on changing traditional mindsets and the author persuasively addresses one of our most entrenched mindsets, that of batch processing. The author opens the reader's eyes to the waste creating batching practices which occur not only at our workplace, but in our daily lives outside of the workplace as well. You'll find yourself scratching your head more than once and saying to yourself, ‘He's right, I do that without even thinking about it. What am I doing!’ The author then provides the remedy to this batching addiction, one-piece flow. He delves into the multiple root causes of why we batch, so the reader can begin to develop productive countermeasures. The many advantages of one-piece flow are clearly demonstrated throughout the book. One-piece flow processing is one of the most difficult aspects of Lean since we somehow seem to be hard-wired to batch, so I'm really glad that this book was finally written to help every single person ‘get it.’ To get why one-piece flow is the only way to go. Please read this book!"
—David Rizzardo, Associate Director, The Maryland World Class Consortia