A manufacturing approach in which equipment and workstations are arranged to facilitate small lot, continuous flow production. In a manufacturing cell, all operations that are necessary to produce a component or sub assembly are performed in close proximity, often times in a U-shaped layout, thus allowing for quick feedback between operations when problems and other issues arise. Workers in manufacturing cells are typically cross trained and able to perform multiple tasks as needed.
In traditional manufacturing environments, similar machines are placed close together (e.g. lathes, mills, drills, presses, painting, cleaning, etc.). These layouts are more robust to machine breakdowns, have common jigs and fixtures in the same area, and support high levels of demarcation. Cellular Manufacturing systems machines are grouped together according to the families of parts produced, which provides a distinct advantage in that material flow is significantly improved, which reduces the distance traveled by materials, inventory, people which increases the overall lead times.
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