Single Piece Flow Remodel

Last weekend, I encountered the pain of single piece flow during our master bathroom remodel.  Sometimes doing the right thing is hard to do.  This was one of those instances.

Not a picture of our bathroom project

As my wife and I were tiling the around the tub and inside the shower we knew we would need a lot of cuts.  We knew we couldn’t just measure and cut a bunch of pieces to fit because of the odd angles.  This is where the single piece flow comes in.  My wife would measure a piece and mark it out.  I would run downstairs and out into the driveway, cut the piece and then bring it back up to her.  When I got back she would have finished installing the previous piece and measure out the next piece.  I would take the next piece and go cut it and bring it back.

The pain was physical.  I have never climbed up and down so many stairs in a day.  I felt like I was back in high school and the basketball coach had gotten mad at the team and told us to hit the stairs.  Usually, I am at my standup desk.  Not today!  I am sitting in my chair.

As hard as that got to be, it was the right thing for this part of the project.  We would have wasted more tile with bad cuts if we would have tried to forecast what was needed.

Understanding when single piece flow is necessary can be key.  Sometimes people try to fit everything to a single piece flow as a first step in their lean transformation.  Understanding the work being done and what waste may be created by doing batch vs. single piece is the first step to know how and when to implement single piece flow.

Off to heat my legs.  There is still more tiling to do.

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Posted on September 2, 2011, in Flow, Manufacturing, Tools, Waste and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good point. I was expecting you to also mention the layout of the work space. Moving that tile cutter to the master bedroom wouldn’t be ideal, but how often do we miss the opportunity to reduce transportation by taking a fresh look at the layout?

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