Keep your bottle-neck full

Keep your bottle-neck fullMy Introduction to Process Management professor should have retired 20 years before I sat in his class. This was a required course and he was not only quirky, but a little disconnected as well.

 

However, the one concept that clicked with me – and something that I have used often – is how to improve operations through a simple concept:

 

“Drum-Buffer-Rope”

 

I have a close friend who is an industrial engineer. I am sure he will be irked by my over-simplification below.

 

Ideally, you should eliminate bottlenecks. However, there are many times when a bottleneck is outside of your control or ability.

 

To make the most out of a bottleneck, you have to keep it as full as possible without creating too much back log.

 

  1. Identify the bottleneck and decide what it’s highest speed is.
  2. Set the rest of the system to only work as fast as the bottleneck rhythm (Drum)
  3. Create a “lead-time” on the work needed (Buffer)
  4. Only send enough work through the system that will pull the work through the bottleneck at a consistent rate. (Rope)

 

Simply put: know your bottlenecks and maximize their operation. It will eliminate wasted time and expense.