Enabling flow

Focus on being productive instead of busy”, famous quote by Tim Ferris Advisor of Facebook, Twitter, and Uber.


Do you face the issue of ‘lower factory output’ even when your workers spend the whole time efficiently? If yes, you are not alone. There are many factories that are struggling with this problem i.e., “Higher individual output but lower collective output”, more so with factories that operate on ’piece-rate’.

The first step in solving this problem is to locate where productivity is lost. When the system is capable of identifying the source of the problem, half the problem is solved.


For example, consider an organization having 50 workers and 3 supervisors is facing productivity issues. The problem is not with all 50 workers, but with those 3 to 5 inefficient workers who pulls down the output. Inefficiency could be due to lack of training, skills, or motivation.

How do you identify/ isolate these inefficient workers?

Will you add more supervisor? Or will you create a monitoring system that measures the output at various stages? Both these methods would temporarily solve the problem at the cost of increase in overheads.

There is a magic wand that will increase productivity without increasing overhead and that is “line production

Line production is nothing more than establishing product based layout in which machines/work stations are arranged as per process sequence and product will move through each process to get value addition.

Line production helps in enabling flow, wherein productive time increases by reducing Non-Value added Activities (NVA) like transportation, waiting and defects. Line production helps in improving throughput time and reduces overall cost of operation. This also isolates inefficient workers by observing the number of pieces waiting for value addition in his station and idle operators in the subsequent processes. And any inefficiency like material non-availability, machine breakdown etc., would be addressed immediately as this would affect the whole line

So, go wave this magic wand in your shop floor and make your factory more productive.


Therefore, in a mega factory (whether it makes chocolates, beverages, computers or cars) the manufacturing system is designed in such a way that flow is maintained and value addition happens simultaneously – resulting in higher efficiency and better throughput.

-Kannan Paramasivan

Labor productivity line efficiency Line production NVA

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