Whether its Lean Six Sigma, just in time or a pull system, flow is the term used to refer to a production or service environment that continuously moves value through the value stream without interruptions. An environment that has flow would have very low levels of muda, muri and mura. Flow can also be described as the progression of tasks involved in creating products and information minus stoppages, delays, scrap, rework, reversals and backflows. Flow applies to both materials and information.
Another way to define flow is how work progresses through a system towards a completed state. When something has a good flow, it moves at a steady and stable pace towards completion. Bad flow, on the other hand, is when the work frequently starts and then stops again and again. Typically when the flow is "bad" there is waste somewhere in the process that is slowing or stopping the flow of the process. Companies should set goals that work towards establishing consistent and stable flow which shortens lead times, adds value to all phases of a process and seeks to eliminate problems and waste.
What are the Seven Forms of Manufacturing Flow?
First described and taught by the Japanese Sensei Nakao-san, the seven flows of manufacturing are:
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