Principle 4 in Lean Management : Heijunka

Level out the workload

The traditional build-to-order model of production is to make just what the customer want when they want it. Actually, it’s a strict system which creates piles of inventory, hidden problems, and poor quality.

The three kinds of waste

Muda : the non-value-added wastes (read the 7 wastes)

Muri : it’s about overburdening people or equipment. It’s to push them beyond natural limits and that can cause safety and quality problems.

Mura : It’s the unevenness. It’s an irregular production schedule or fluctuating production volumes due to internal problems.

Heijunka is to have a true balanced lean flow of work. All the workers must become tortoises.

In the traditional way : we produce week 1 AAAAAAA, week 2, AABBBB, week 3, BCC
In the Heijunka way : ABABC, ABABC

The benefits are
Flexibility to make what the customer wants when they want it. With less inventory

Less unsold good
Balance use of labor and machines
Less inventory for suppliers and less costs for the customer

Change to order

In place of a “Build to order” system, choose a “change to order”. For a personalised product, take one moving down the line and change specs on.

Service operation

Fit customer demand into your schedule. And establish standard times for delivering different types of service. For example, the doctors which consult you and know how much time you will need for the next appointment.


The content of this post is inspired by the book “The Toyota Way” – Jeffrey K. Liker

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