Heijunka is a technique for sequencing production and smoothing out fluctuations. First and foremost, this means harmonising the flow of materials in terms of quantities, ensuring that production runs smoothly and, as far as possible, always results in the same volume of products.
Repeating production cycles frequently
Levelling is the process of breaking down the products that are to be manufactured in a year, month or week into daily rations instead of producing everything shortly before the delivery deadline. Smoothing is the next stage in this process – breaking this daily ration down further. Heijunka means smoothing and therefore describes an extension of levelling in production. The theoretical aim of manufacturing each and every product each and every day is regarded in lean management theory as one of the most cost-reducing and effective production methods.
When applying Heijunka to boost efficiency, a company’s production system must support the optimum segmentation of work sequences and all efforts must take into account fluctuating demand on the market. However, not all products can be produced in all their variants at least once a day, which is the ultimate aim. If a company is to get close to achieving this goal, the most important thing it can do is massively reduce setup times. If work benches enable users to change over production sequences in minimal time, queues can be minimised and Heijunka improves efficiency. This system is particularly suitable for significantly optimising a complex, multi-tiered production system, even if only in subsections.
Demands on production equipment
For Heijunka to succeed, picking and provisioning systems need to be configured for maximum efficiency, as that is the only way that several different subgroups can be made available in parallel without the need to replace or reconfigure systems. When it comes to the work bench itself, this often means that a large number of tools need to be stowed in an arrangement that is both space-saving and ergonomic.