1st Edition

The Basics of Self-Balancing Processes
True Lean Continuous Flow

ISBN 9781439819654
Published February 13, 2012 by Productivity Press
108 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations

USD $24.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Self-Balancing is not just a tweak or change to assembly line balancing, but a completely transformed method for achieving continuous flow. Among the reasons you should try Self-Balancing is that you can expect a productivity improvement of at least 30 percent—with improvements of 50-60 percent quite common.

Using a well-tested method for successful improvements initiated by the author, The Basics of Self-Balancing Processes: True Lean Continuous Flow is the first book to explain how to achieve continuous flow in both simple and complex manufacturing environments. It describes how to recognize and resolve weak links to ensure continuous flow in your manufacturing operations.

The book offers rules, tools, and guidelines to help you not only solve problems at the root, but even eliminate them before they start. It reviews the shortcomings of traditional assembly line balancing and walks readers through the new paradigm of Self-Balancing.

The text includes a comprehensive overview that demonstrates the power, flexibility, and breakthroughs possible with this method. Offering solutions to the shortcomings associated with standard line balancing—including inventory buffers, variation, and operator pace—it provides you with the tools and understanding required to deal with batch and off-line processes, debug your line, arrange your parts and tools, and design your own Self-Balanced cells.

Watch Gordon Ghirann discuss how his book can increase the productivity of your business.


Table of Contents

Conventional Assembly Line Balancing
Paced Lines
Manual Assembly Lines
Level Loading

Shortcomings of Level Loading
Artificially Balanced
     WIP Buffers
     Slowest Operator/Station Sets the Pace
     Variations in Yield and Cycle Time
     Absent Operators
     Inflexible, Difficult-to-Adjust Output
     Silo Mentality
     Repetitive and Monotonous Work for the Line Workers
     Moving Beyond Level Loading

A New Paradigm
Conditions for Continuous Flow
     Rules to Standardize Self-Balancing
          Rule 1: Keep Building Progressively Until Someone Pulls from You
          Rule 2: When the Downstream Operator Pulls from You, Walk Upstream to the Next Operator and Pull from Them
          Rule 3: If You Catch Up to Someone When Moving Downstream, Wait
          Rule 4: Don’t Leapfrog; Everyone Stays in Their Position
          Rule 5: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Dealing with Fumbles
Standard Conditions for a Fumble
     Nonstandard Conditions for a Fumble
     Fumble Rules
          Rule 1: Encountering a Fumble When Moving Upstream
          Rule 2: Encountering a Fumble When Moving Downstream
          Rule 3: Returning to a Fumble

Batch and Off-Line Processing
Curtain Operations
In/Out Tray
Guidelines and Rules for Backbench Operations
     Rule 1: Frontline Operators Leave the Line to Perform Backbench Operations on Demand
     Rule 2: Operators Communicate When Leaving for the Backbench
     Rule 3: Reenter the Frontline in the Same Position
Types of Loading and Unloading

Subassembly Feeder Lines
Rules for Self-Balancing Subassembly Feeder Lines
     Rule 1: Going Down the River
     Rule 2: Going Up the River
Rules for Subassembly Feeder Line Operators
     Rule 1: When Frontline and Feeder Line Are Synchronized
     Rule 2: Encountering a Fumbled Subassembly

Debugging the Line
Standard Work
SWIP Inventory
     SWIP Increasing
     SWIP Decreasing
Additional Debugging

Horizontal Arrangement of Parts and Tools
Benefits and Potential Disadvantages of Horizontal Part and Tool Presentation
Additional Rows of Parts for Mixed-Model Lines
Quick Product Changeover of a Cell

Cell Designs
Cell Design Considerations
     Walking Distance
     Part-Travel Distance
Cell Layouts
     Basic Cell Shapes
     Cells with Off-Line Processing
Station Setup
     Right-Sized Stations
     Vertical Space
     Standing Height
     Standing Surface



View More



Gordon Ghirann received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He began developing the self-balancing methodology in 1998, working at and with several companies, products lines, and processes around the world, sharing, consulting, and teaching along the way. Gordon has been a regularly featured presenter of Workshops at the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) conference. He currently resides in California. Visit www.self-balancing.com for more information.


Instead of explaining merely the typical approach that seeks to balance the work and operates strictly according to takt time, Gordon’s method takes advantage of the ‘human element’ and releases the full potential of the employees. … Self-Balancing surfaces barriers to flow and provides a framework for the supporting management support system. …Until now, there was no source for this powerful concept outside of some limited research on the web. Gordon, however, has probably experimented more with Self-Balancing than anyone else, so I’m very excited that he has finally brought this powerful concept to you.
—Kirk Paluska, Lean Transformations Group