Heijunka: Leveling The Mix and Volume of Work

In lean thinking, we often talk about leveling the mix and volume of work.  This is the concept known as heijunka, and most people simply accept this as just another “tool in the toolbox.”  However, it actually is not a tool at all; heijunka is a principle.  It is the idea that if we level the quantity of work we output at each point in a process, we can facilitate connected flow throughout our value streams with as few delays and as little inventory (or things waiting for the next processing step) as possilble.  Without heijunka, pull systems and one piece flow do not function properly.  This prevents us from achieving the ultimate condition: providing a defect-free product or service to the customer when they need it and in the right quantity.  We’ve created a somewhat humorous cartoon in our lean series of animated videos for you to enjoy.  To learn more, visit our website and read some of our lean manufacturing articles, sign up for our lean newsletter, or take one of our lean manufacturing training courses.

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