How to achieve constant production in an ever fluctuating market?

Product demand will always vary with the newly emerging market situations. In the earlier days, the dominating philosophy was that an assembly line would become more efficient only when skilled employees performed repetitive tasks. The logic behind this concept was to make an employee an expert at one task to increase productivity. But this theory has given way to heijunka for the last two decades and performing multiple tasks have become the need of the hour. When the product line has to shift their focus from one product to another nobody wants to lose precious time in this highly competitive world. Since the demand undergoes tremendous fluctuations a manufacturer will have to be better prepared to face the rapidly emerging situations and that is what makes heijunka an endearing concept to a huge number of people.

HeijunkaA competent production or an assembly line should be better prepared with the production in a flowing and constant manner. The variations in the demand should not affect the output in an adverse manner and these types unexpected changes will be handled inside the production line with heijunka system. The fact of the matter is that heijunka can be put into practice in a manufacturing establishment with highly advanced machinery and an assembly line with the capability of producing multiple products.

Heijunka System This lean tool does not confine itself with manufacturing practices only and it can also be applied in areas like project management, paperwork reduction projects, cost saving measures, and similar business related situations. Anyhow, heijunka was created primarily to address the issues of manufacturing and how to handle the shift in demand by sheltering the production line from the fluctuations becomes a reality with this unique concept. It can be said without any doubt that constant output without having any unwanted delay is the ultimate goal of heijunka.

All About Heijunka

Heijunka is a Japanese technique in which continuous outflow of products is ensured through a coordinated sequence of production batches all the way through the manufacturing line in a just in time system or lean production. It is all about production smoothing, leveling and load leveling.
There are two ways to achieve Heijunka:

- Leveling and smoothing out daily workload
- Leveling and smoothing out the product mix for the daily workload so that any variation in the demand can be attended.

Heijunka

In order to simplify the leveling those products that are with different levels of demand, Heijunka box is used to achieve efficiencies. It is a visual scheduling tool to achieve heihunka aims.

By implementing Heijunka technique, a manufacturing company can get the following benefits:

- It is systematic approach that will help the company to sort out all of its processes in such a way that maximum utilization of resources is ensured.

- This technique will help in reducing the waste product volume. This will occur due to the adjustments that will be made in assembly lines, thus, improving the efficiency of the company.

- As the assembly lines run smoother, heijunka will reduce the strain on the company executives and machine equipment.

- As the production will be smooth and leveled, no two products will be unlike. This system will help in getting same products without any flaws.

- By making the batch size small, heijunka will prevent flaws that result in mass production. By producing smaller amounts, companies will get better outcomes.

- As the products are manufactured at a scheduled time, lead times will also reduce.

Heijunka Box

Thus, Heijunka is an advance technique that will help a company to achieve its goals that are based on the demand pattern for a specific product. It will also ensure proper and schedules utilization of resources making the company profitable and the end customers happy.

Heijunka: How this method can reduce waste and optimize output

Japan has been at the forefront of developing new managerial and production techniques and their ideas have been used and implemented with great success throughout the world. ‘Heijunka‘ or production leveling is another great innovative method of reducing waste during manufacturing and production in industries. As with countless other advancements, this concept too originated at Toyota.

Very simply, the whole goal of the process is to keep producing intermediate items at a constant rate, so that further processing can be carried out at a predictable and smooth rate. Heijunka provides stability to any process that is trying to implement lean manufacturing in its system. It works to:

* Obliterate ‘Mura’ – Uneven production quality
* Controlling ‘Muri’ – Saturation of production resources
* Reducing ‘Muda’ – Waste production ingredients

HeijunkaThe basic mantra is to go for smaller batches in production and to produce a mix of goods rather than developing large quantities of a single element in one batch. This removes the fluctuations that may develop within the production line and efficiency is greatly optimized. When the demand is constant, it works as defined but if it fluctuates then two methods have been developed:

1. Demand Leveling – This is a way of influencing the demand for the good itself to introduce predictability in production schedules. Sometimes it is done through manipulating the offering of the product while other times it is attained by enhancing the variability in patterns of ordering.

2. Production leveling – The second part is the original product leveling itself, which works in tandem with Demand leveling to manage fluctuations and introducing order in production methods.

Heijunka leanThe ‘Heijunka box’ is a practical implementation of the idea of Heijunka, developed at Toyota, which helps in producing multiple goods at a pre-defined rate so that demand is met at regular intervals. It consists of a box with horizontal rows for each product and vertical rows depict the time intervals of production.’ Kanban’ cards are used to determine the production and flow of each product which ensures that there is no wastage of resources or time, since production keeps rotating the items being produced at fixed intervals.

If Heijunka is implemented properly in any organization, it can completely change the way it functions and help them become more streamlined and profitable.