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Cellular-Based Manufacturing

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Today’s post discusses the advantages to cellular based manufacturing. In particular, the benefits this approach provides to those industries requiring considerable flexibility when developing future products.

On Electronic Products and Technology, Jack Rubinger, provides a detailed guide to understanding not only the best practices for this work technique, but how it transforms development into an efficient, more productive process that genuinely improves overall results.

Cellular or small group manufacturing practices have many advantages over traditional line-based manufacturing practices and are an integral part of lean manufacturing which has its roots in the automotive industry. Each group or cell can handle multiple families of parts, incorporate greater operator involvement across multiple processes rather than just one in traditional line-based manufacturing, and handle fewer parts for more precision work.

Robby Slaughter, a principal of AccelaWork and author of The How-To Guide for Generations at Work, is well-versed in the subject matter of achieving productive workflow through innovation. In fact, as an entrepreneur, he believes a company must have the ability to recognize a need for change and stand strong in proactively evolving to remain competitive. In Rubinger’s article, Slaughter discusses his point of view on the matter:

Cellular environments are excellent for products that require variability and customization and a loose coupling of steps . . . Ultimately, you wind up with more options. And in a rapidly changing economy, you need to adapt to constantly changing customer demands.


© Flickr user chuckoutrearseats

The article also discusses how cellular manufacturing reduces work in progress (WIP) and creates a checks-and-balances system for quality control. By allowing employees to focus in on one particular portion of a process, they are able to recognize and fix problems efficiently. According to Mike Bangasser of Best Technology, another source in Rubinger’s article, problem-solving isn’t the only benefit to this type of work production:

Another reason these types of companies have cellularized is due to the high precision nature of manufacturing. Many times, a manufacturing step will require ultra-high precision machining and the next process could be state-of-the-art laser welding. Splitting up these process steps allows an employee to become an expert at one process rather than just slightly knowledgeable about multiple processes.

Companies that utilize cellular manufacturing create products in a timely and cost-effective manner and provide enhanced flexibility for the clients they serve. To put into perspective how groups are determined, the article provides a checklist of the essential components:

  • Workstations
  • Cellular-based manufacturing machines
  • Workers
  • Tools, gauges, and fixtures
  • Material storage
  • Materials handling

© Flickr user USDAgov

Here at The Methodology Blog we love to highlight topics such as productivity, effective workflow, and employee satisfaction, to name only a few. And while cellular manufacturing may not necessarily fit within the parameters of your company, it advances a common goal in business: to seek improvement and enhance overall process performance. As Rubinger summarizes:

Cellular-based manufacturing requires a high degree of collaboration, communication, and consistency to work properly. For many companies and their communications, the approach is worthwhile because products are delivered on time and according to specifications.

Every company is different. There may be a large variation between what works and what doesn’t work. But it’s important to know that despite the task and no matter the goal, there are an infinite number of ways to streamline processes to improve overall business. All it takes is awareness, initiative, and the ability to put a plan into action.

To learn more about how AccelaWork can help implement new and improved processes in your company, reach out to us today!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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