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One-Piece Flow

One-piece flow is the method of production in which operators or machines work on single units and pass them along to the next process when requested.

The most common example of one-piece flow is the assembly line. An operator at each station works on a unit. All of this work-in process (one unit per operator or automatic machine) moves in synchronization to the next station.

One-piece flow can be very difficult to achieve. It requires short setup times to be able to avoid large batches. It requires pull to keep work from piling up. It requires kanban to make sure parts are always present when needed. And one-piece flow requires standard work to keep processes running smoothly.

If you want more information, watch my Flow vs. Batch Manufacturing video to see one-piece flow in action.

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