“Initial Pull”

Guideline #6:  Create an “initial pull” by releasing and withdrawing small, consistent increment of work at the pacemaker process. (Level the production volume)

Too many companies release large batches of work to their  ship floor processes, which cause several problems:

  • Their is no sense of takt time (no “takt image”) and no “pull” to which the value stream can respond.
  • The volume of work performed typically occurs unevenly over time, with peaks and valleys that cause extra urden on machines, people, and supermarkets.
  • The situation becomes difficult to monitor:  “Are we behind or ahead?”
  • With a large amount of work released to the shop floor, each process in the value stream can shuffle orders.  This increases lead time and the need to expedite.
  • Responding to  changes in customer requirement becomes very complicated, which can ofter be seen in very complex information flows in current-state drawings.
  • Establishing a consistent or level production pace creates a predictable production flow, which by its nature advises you of problems and enables you to take quick corrective action.  A god place to start is to regularly release only a small, consistent amount of production instruction (usually between 5-60 minutes worth) at eh pacemaker process, and simultaneously take away an equal amount of finished goods.  We call this practice a “paced withdraw”.

    We call the consistent increment of work the “pitch”, and often calculate the pitch increment based on pack-out container quantity (the number of parts one finished -goods container holds),  or a multiple or fraction of that quantity.  For example: if you takt time = 30 seconds, and you pack size = 20 pieces, than your pitch = 10 minutes (30 sec x 20 pcs = 10 minutes).  In other words every 10 minutes:

  • Give the pacemaker process instruction to produce one pack quantity;
  • Take away one finished pitch quantity.
  • So in this case pitch means multiplying your takt time upward to a finished-goods transfer quantity at the pacemaker process.  This then becomes the basic unit of you production scheduled for a product family.

    One way to think about pitch is as your “management time frame”.  How often do you know your performance to customer demand?  If you release a week of work to the floor at one time, than the answer is probably “once a week”.  It is impossible to product to takt time in this situation.  There is no “takt image”! However, if you are scheduling and checking production every pitch, than you can rapidly respond to problems and maintain takt time.   Just as we don’t want to transfer material in large batches, we don’t want to transfer production instruction (information) in large batches either.