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Pull vs Big Batches

A business wants to focus their product or service on customers that have asked for their products or services. Currently, the business approaches satisfying their customers in terms of large batches. That means that you produce your product or service in a large quantity and then store it in preparation for delivery to your customer. The problem that you face in this scenario is that this generates a lot of inventory which is costly.

This makes planning a big part of your business. How often do you change a production schedule to meet the risk of a dwindling inventory?

Fire drills abound and blood pressures rise. Salespeople are on edge and are promoting inventory information to nudge customers to buy. Customers feel pressured.

Pull don’t Push

Lean Business believes that you should investigate Lean Six Sigma as a solution to these challenges.

Move to a Pull system where ever you can. Pull brings efficiency and performance enhancement into your organization. In the book Lean Thinking, James Womack and Daniel Jones discuss a simple experiment one of them performs with their daughters. The goal was to produce a newsletter:

  • fold
  • stamp
  • seal

The two young daughters recommended first folding all the newsletters then stamping them and finally ceiling them. That represents a process done with large batches. The dad used a small batch technique of folding a newsletter, then stamping it, and finally ceiling it and then repeating that process. The dad won the race.

Yes, he was an adult but that is not how come he won the race. There are four well unnoticed components that helped him. He:

  1. did not move large stacks around
  2. did not do any sorting
  3. stacked only one time
  4. looked at it as a system speed problem whereas the daughters looked at it as an individual speed problem

Whether you are processing building permits or manufacturing different types of golf balls a pull system increases performance and delivers what the customer wants, when the customer wants it.

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