Six Sigma Blog: Cellular Manufacturing
Cellular manufacturing, like all other principles of lean manufacturing, stresses on the elimination of waste. Here waste refers to the time taken in moving materials between different stages in the process and the amount of material moved. The aim of cellular manufacturing is to minimize movement of materials and the time taken to move them between workstations, and as a result minimize the cost of the process. For this reason, workstations are usually placed close to each other, and in-process inventory is limited to only those items that are being used. Like JIT, cellular manufacturing utilizes kanban to signal the end of an inventory cycle, and also reduces the need for large inventory storage spaces. This process involves efficient coordination between the production, purchase and cost accounting departments.
Cellular manufacturing uses multiple machines instead of one, multi-process machine. This means that the workers who use these machines have to be trained in efficient multi-tasking. However, this set up helps eliminate defective products by identifying the first such product immediately, instead of after a whole batch has been manufactured. As with JIT, strong relationships with supply partners will decide how valuable your cellular manufacturing process is.