In manufacturing, every step of the production process must be carefully planned and coordinated to achieve an efficient workflow. One of the most important aspects of this planning is line balancing, also known as production leveling.
Line balancing is the process of allocating operator and machine time so that it matches the take time (production rate). Takt time is the average rate at which products or parts undergo production to meet customer demand.
To ensure proper line balancing in your manufacturing firm, it’s important to understand what this concept entails and its objectives. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know about line balancing, from its definition to how you can achieve it.
What is Line Balancing?
In manufacturing, line balancing is the process of organizing production tasks to ensure that the line produces items at a rate that matches customer demand. This is done by adjusting the time given to each task and ensuring that an appropriately skilled operator performs all tasks.
In some cases, you can improve line balancing with digital tools such as scheduling software or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). With these solutions, line balancing can be done automatically with less need for manual intervention.
Objectives of Line Balancing
The objectives of line balancing are to:
- Minimize line downtime
- Maximize line utilization
- Reduce operator idle time
- Improve product quality
- Increase operator morale
Through line balancing, you can achieve an efficient workflow that helps your manufacturing firm save time and money and improve the quality of your products.
Benefits of Line Balancing
It’s important to line balance your manufacturing process because it has many benefits. Here are some of the advantages that you will get when you practice proper line balancing within your company:
Reduce Waiting Waste
Waiting waste is among the Eight Types of Lean Manufacturing Waste. This type of waste happens when an operator waits for the next task because the line ahead is not moving. With line balancing, you can avoid this type of waste and keep your line moving.
Avoid Overproduction Waste
Another type of waste that line balancing can help you avoid is overproduction waste. This happens when items are produced faster than they are needed, which leads to inventory buildup and storage costs.
Absorb Irregularities in Demand
Line balancing can also help you to better absorb irregularities in demand. This is because line balancing ensures that your line is always operating at or near capacity. This way, you will be able to quickly ramp up production when there is an increase in demand and avoid line stoppages when demand is low.
Improve Product Quality
Line balancing can also improve the quality of your products. This is because line balancing ensures that each task is performed by an operator who is skilled in that particular task. This way, you can avoid mistakes and produce products that meet your high standards.
Reduce Production Costs and Increase Profits
Line balancing can help you to reduce your production costs and increase your profits. This is because line balancing leads to increased line utilization, which means that you can produce more products with the same resources. In addition, line balancing can help reduce operator idle time, saving you money on labor costs.
How to Achieve Line Balancing?
Achieving line balancing involves five key steps:
Calculate Takt Time
The goal of line balancing is to match production rate with takt time. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of your takt time before you start line balancing. Takt time is the rate at which parts or products must be produced to meet customer demand.
To calculate takt time, you need to know two things: the available production time and the customer demand. The available production time is the amount of time your line is operational in a day. Customer demand is the number of products your customers require daily.
You can calculate takt time by dividing the available production time by the customer demand. For example, if your line is operational eight hours a day and your customers require 200 products a day, your takt time would be 0.04 hours, or two minutes and 24 seconds.
Perform Time Studies
Time studies aim to determine the time it takes to complete a task. This information is essential for line balancing, as it will help you to determine how many operators are needed for each task.
There are two main methods for performing time studies: the stopwatch method and the work sampling method. The stopwatch method involves timing how long an operator takes to complete a task. The work sampling method involves observing an operator and taking samples of the time it takes to complete a task.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The stopwatch method is more accurate but can disrupt the production process. The work sampling method is less accurate but less disruptive to the production process.
Identify Bottlenecks and Excess Capacity
Once you have data from your time studies, it’s time to start data analysis. First, identify which parts of the process are taking longer than the takt time and which are taking less time. These areas are your bottlenecks and excess capacity, respectively.
Your goal is to remove bottlenecks and excess capacity. You can do this by rearranging the order of tasks, redesigning the workspace, or investing in new equipment.
Once you have identified your bottlenecks and excess capacity, it’s time to reallocate your resources. This means moving operators and machines around so that the line is balanced. There are many ways to do this, and the best way will depend on your particular production line.
A precedence diagram will be a valuable tool during this step, as it will help you visualize the order in which tasks need to be performed. This diagram will also help you identify any tasks you can perform in parallel, further increasing line utilization.
Make Continuous Improvement
The analysis and reallocation of resources should be an ongoing process. As your production line changes and evolves, so should your line balancing strategy. As a result, you can increase line utilization and decrease operator idle time by continuously improving your line balancing.
Use DATAMYTE To Execute Proper Line Balancing
Line balancing involves a lot of data collection, analysis, and decision-making. To properly execute this process, you must visualize it by creating a workflow. DATAMYTE can help you in both regards.
With the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, comprehensive workflow-building software will enable you to visualize and optimize line balancing. This will help you to identify and solve line balancing issues more quickly and effectively.
In addition, the DataMyte Digital Clipboard also has a checklist and form builder, which will prove useful in creating relevant tools for line balancing. You can use these checklists and forms to collect data during line studies, which will help you accurately identify line balancing issues.
Using the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you have an all-in-one solution to line balancing that will help you decrease operator idle time while improving line utilization. Book a demo now!
Line balancing is a strategy you cannot afford to overlook if you want to ensure your manufacturing operations are as efficient as possible. By taking the time to balance your production line properly, you can eliminate bottlenecks, boost line utilization, and reduce operator idle time. And with the right tools in place, line balancing will be easy and convenient. So what are you waiting for? Try DATAMYTE today!