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Manufacturing Rhythm and Routine

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

The Lean Journey: Manufacturing Rhythm and Routine

By: Ben Roush

In the manufacturing facility, everyone wants to have some level of predictability in their day. I suppose this is the same in every business, not just manufacturing. There is something majestic about a well-run shop floor, regardless of what type of business you are in.

The great psychology of real flow production: If quality throughput conquers all – then how do we get there?

As leaders we have to continuously look into the mirror and decide where to best spend our time. What type of management style can give your team the rhythm and routine they need to get the job done?

Current convention allows our senior management to spend far too much time on “mandatory conference calls.” I love to challenge how much of this activity is actually necessary. These could include financial, launch related, or customer meetings.

Recent publications are now giving us a better idea of our management cadence or “kata.” Some common interpretations of this include a management team’s routine or pattern of activity. Hopefully, this includes some type of SQDCM board review, to drive the PDCA process steps.

What is your frequency of SQDCM shop floor board reviews?

Where is your management team time spent? In daily line up meetings, shift meetings, weekly audit schedules, etc...? As a lean leader, we really should get a feel for where our team is spending their time. This means having your team fill out a “day in a life” sheet to provide an outline of exactly where their time is spent.

The great psychology of real flow production: The production team.

At the cell, there is nothing better for an operator, than a production cell that runs well. In order to get there, the recipe will probably include the following:

1. Operators are well-trained.

2. KPI’s and performance are clearly understood; including safety, quality and throughput.

3. Cycle times for both machine and operator are stable and sustainable.

4. Non-value-added issues or “off standard” conditions have been removed from the operators. Did you know, many cells on the shop floor have a Moses stick somewhere, to help our colleagues’ fish for parts or kick them back onto a conveyor. Where are your Moses sticks?

5. Well performing preventative maintenance process, with input from the operators. After good 5s disciplines have been established, then we can give the operators more process checks to complete.

6. Manufacturing flow is now conducive for “improvement opportunities” because our production environment is stable and measurable for the next step.

As a note, dumping customer releases “at” the manufacturing group does not support real rhythm and routine. Creating an effective production schedule is what helps the shop floor team execute the plan and focus on safety, quality, and throughput. I say this tongue and cheek – but it’s true. If your materials team is dumping releases versus scheduling, then you are missing a critical step in the process. In many ways, production “smoothing” is the lost art of scheduling.

A closing question: Where does your management team spend their time in your organization?

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