Garza-Reyes, J. A., Oraifige, L., Soriano-Meier, H., Forrester, P. L. and Harmanto, D. (2012) The development of a lean park homes production process using process flow and simulation methods. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.23(2), pp. 178-197. 1741-038X.
Garza-Reyes, J. A., Oraifige, L., Soriano-Meier, H., Forrester, P. L. and Harmanto, D.
Purpose – Continuous process flow is a prerequisite of lean systems as it helps to reduce throughput times, improve quality, minimize operational costs, and shorten delivery times. The purpose of this paper is to empirically demonstrate the application of a methodology that combines a time-based study, discrete-event simulation and the trial and error method to enable a leaner process through more efficient line balancing and more effective flow for a park homes production process. This method is replicable across other contexts and industry settings. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews the UK park homes production industry and, specifically, a major factory that builds these homes. It compares the factory method to traditional on-site construction methods. An empirical study of production times was carried out to collect data in order to analyse the current workload distribution and the process flow performance of the park homes production process. Finally, seven discrete-event simulation models were developed in order to test different scenarios and define the optimum line balance for every section of the production process. Findings – By combining time study, discrete-event simulation and trial and error methods, the workload distribution and process flow performance of the park homes production line were analysed and improved. A reduction of between 1.82 and 36.32 percent in balancing losses in some sections of the process was achieved. Practical implications – This paper supports current knowledge on process flow improvement and line balancing by exploring and analysing these issues in a real-life context. It can be used to guide production management practitioners in their selection of methods and demonstrates how they are exploited when seeking to improve process flow, efficiency and line balancing of production operations. Originality/value – The study uses a real industrial application to demonstrate how the methodological combination and deployment of process flow improvement strategies, such as time study, simulation, and trial and error, can help organisations achieve process flow improvements and, as a consequence, a leaner production process.