Technique 38

Work Cell Design

Configure the workspace for flow and optimization.


Work cell design organizes people, equipment, and processes into the most efficient combination of resources to maximize value creation while minimizing waste. This concept is leveraged by homebuilders, for example, when they design a kitchen. As a center of activity, the kitchen needs to be laid out in a way that supports the flow of making dinner, doing dishes, putting away groceries, and other activities.

Needless to say, if you have a new innovation—product, service, or business model—it pays for you to configure a work cell design before launching into full production or delivery. In doing so, you'll optimize your processes and reduce the time it takes to meet customer demand.

The Background and Steps in this chapter are a good start, but to take full advantage of work cell design, you need to understand more about the principles and practices of Lean—an approach that increases the speed, efficiency, and value of operations while reducing waste in both product and service environments (see Resources at the end of the Process Map/Value Stream Map, Technique 51).


Traditionally, manufacturers sought to keep their machines running as much as possible to maximize productivity and decrease piece costs. These days, many manufacturers (and service providers) have realized the benefits of keeping parts, products, or service delivery flowing at a rate dictated by customer demand. This ensures ...

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