Are you Leveraging Just-in-Time to “Whip-the-WIP”?

posted on: Thursday January 12, 2017

uspo Load MoverUntil its end destination, any widget that has left its initial starting point in the manufacturing process is
considered to be work in process (WIP). The component may have many stops in its journey from point A to point B, and along there, it can rack up a lot of wastes. WIP can require more storage space, clog workflow, and be an overall unnecessary handling of materials that costs time and money.

One of the lean techniques most effectively used to minimize WIP is Just-in-Time (JIT). It is considered a “pull” system that works to eliminate excess inventory by filling orders as they are in demand. The end of the production line would pull from up the line because they have a requirement. On the contrary, a “Push” system would have you building product because Sales/Marketing have a customer forecast based on a guess, or anticipation, of what will be needed.

JIT extends beyond the inventory ordering process, however. Applying this principle changes your workflow, eliminating bottlenecks and overall “whipping” the WIP. That’s not to say that work is performed hastily as though your workers fear the crack of a whip. It means that the work is performed more efficiently, reducing the work in process that’s eating up your resources.

Certain tools and equipment are especially useful to the JIT model because they support a lot of the improvements made to the workflow. For example, a tug and cart system complements JIT work because it optimizes what you can move and how quickly you can move it. Here are a few ways the system makes that happen:

Compresses the operation – Using an electric powered tug and cart moves inventory between production cells more quickly. The tug is easily operated by production workers, so WIP can move as soon as it’s ready.

Improves delivery time – At the end of a production run, which is sped up with JIT, WIP can be easily collected and quickly delivered to packaging and/or shipping. Using multiple carts allows you to seamlessly remove one load for delivery while production begins to compile the next.

Optimizes your labor – For loads that are too heavy for one person to move, a tug overcomes the “Draw-bar Pull” requirements in moving a cart. Just one person can effortlessly move a load, preventing other people from having to stop their work and create congestion in production or other areas of the process.

Encourages continual movement – The tug basically attaches to anything on wheels. When one cart is dropped off, another can be picked up to carry off a new batch of product or parts to be delivered anywhere else throughout the process. Again, this helps relieve congestion so that your WIP is minimized and keeps production flowing.

Power tugs in particular have a reputation for improving productivity and minimizing workplace injuries. They’re so safe and practical that most companies add more to their operation after buying their first. The tugs bring about a lot of improvement, and they can be used in numerous applications.

If you’re ready to “Whip-the-WIP”, JIT is a great model to apply, and power tugs are a fitting tool to successfully bring it together. For questions or information about battery-powered tugs or cart pushers, contact Load Mover Inc.: 952-767-1720 or