The FIFO (first in, first out) principle is applied to storage and organisation methodologies. It dictates that the parts provided first are also the first to be withdrawn or consumed. The principle is similar to the way a supermarket shelf is stocked – fresh goods are inserted into the shelf from behind so that the articles that were put out first are always at the front and are also the first to be sold. The minimum/maximum stock level is precisely specified in this system.
The principle is used in three cases: Firstly, when one production station is working faster than the next one downstream. Secondly, when the production stages cannot be interlinked. Thirdly, when products are required for several stations.
The FIFO principle for lean manufacturing
As a component in lean production, the FIFO principle aims to avoid material waste of all types. In practical terms, FIFO trolleys constitute the core element of this principle. These mobile units can be pushed right up to the workstations so that the necessary parts can be picked under consideration of ergonomic factors. Transport containers are inserted into these trolleys at one side and slide down an incline to the removal side. When a container is removed from a shelf the next container automatically slides into place. This ensures that materials are always available, while the empty containers can also be returned.
FIFO racks and FIFO trolleys
These mobile units can be moved right up to work benches. The gradient on the shelves ensures that loads slide down to the removal point. When a production part is removed from a shelf the next part automatically slides into place, thereby ensuring that materials are always available, while empty containers are easily returned. The required parts can be positioned to ensure optimum ergonomic picking and provisioning.