Continuous Process Flow

The second principle of the Toyota Way is:

Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.

A good place for any company to begin the journey to lean is to create continuous flow wherever applicable in its core manufacturing and service processes. Creating flow means linking together operations that otherwise are disjointed. When operations are linked together, there is more teamwork, rapid feedback on earlier quality problems, control over the process, and direct pressure for people to solve problems and think and grow.

Flow is at the heart of the lean message that shortening the elapsed time from raw materials to finished goods or services will lead to the best quality, lowest cost, and shortest delivery time. Flow also tends to force the implementation of many of the other lean tools and philosophies, such as preventive maintenance and built-in quality.

Benefits of the one-piece/continuous process flow are: 1) builds in quality; 2) creates real flexibility; 3) creates higher productivity; 4) frees up floor space; 5) improves safety; 6) improves moral; 7) reduces cost of inventory.

Redesign work processes to achieve high value-added, continuous flow. Strive to cut back to zero the amount of time that any work project is sitting idle or waiting for someone to work on it. Making flow evident throughout your organizational culture is the key to a true continuous improvement process and to developing people.

Summing-up: The continuous process flow links the process and the people together so that if a problem surfaced, it can be solved right away.

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