Batch Vs Single Piece Flow – What is the difference?

One of the key differentiator between lean manufacturing and traditional batch process method is the size of the batch. Traditionally, it is believed large batches are the way to go. Larger the batch, more efficient the machine will run, busier the people will be. So it is believed that it will be much beneficial to have larger batches.

In complete contrast, lean speaks about single piece flow, which essentially talks about a batch of the size of one. Lean shows benefits like the ability to get the product to the market first, inventory not hiding the damages, and not needing of intermediate steps and related costs like inventory holding and transportation.

Both mass manufacturing and lean manufacturing methods had their successes. But in today’s demanding markets, lean methods may be the way to go. But world needed some proof, which came as an experiment in the book called “Lean Thinking”. Basically the challenge was to fold some letters, put them in envelops, seal them and stamp them. The experiment concludes pointing lean as a clear winner.

Now this experiment is repeated on video by the lean six sigma academy. This is a really nice demo of the concept. Simple and to the point. Watch the video below and see how fast the single piece flow can become.