we did not remove any of the waste. So,
the waste we experience in our batch
was applied to every single car, which
made it infinitely worse.
In this scenario, we are battling the
waste of transportation. Each vehicle
has to traverse the entire length of the
intersection before the next vehicle
This means we are adding 50 feet of
transportation waste to each vehicle,
where in the batch processing with
traffic lights we can fit three or four
cars into the intersection at a time,
thus making the process three or four
If all this holds true, how can the
power of single-piece flow prevail?
Let’s look at some options. First,
scrap the traffic lights and put in a
“roundabout.” This would reduce the
amount of waiting associated with
being stopped at a light when there
are no other cars coming, and as soon
as there is an opening you can scoot
around the intersection. When traffic
is heavy, there will still be some waiting
to merge and such, but generally there
will be better flow than being forced to
come to a complete stop.
The next step to achieving single-piece flow in this scenario would be
to build a bridge. Then cars could
pass each other simultaneously one
at a time, no need to stop and batch
(traffic light) or slow to merge (
roundabout), and we can all picture how
much faster bridges would be.
How does this apply back at our
factories? Step one is to establish the
fundamental belief that single-piece
flow is the end goal. However, don’t fall
into the trap of doing it too fast. As in
the traffic example, if you go to lean
too fast, the waste will be insurmount-
able, and it will feel like the walls are
crashing in around you. Your people
will be working their fingers to the
bone, productivity will tank, further
adding to the confusion. We are all
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