Five Key Elements that Drive Manufacturing Flow

If you follow the Demand-Driven Matters blog, you know we specialize in Demand-Driven Manufacturing and have identified the two key components of this method as synchronization and flow. At an enterprise level, synchronization is all about fully connecting your organization to aggregate and share information in real-time. Data from machines, tools, applications, enterprise systems – any data source – is synchronized to drive decision-making (In our view, this also enables the Industrial Internet of Things – IIoT.)

Synchronization is also an enabler of flow. In this post, I want to introduce a discussion around what we’ve identified as the Five Key Elements that Drive Flow in manufacturing production. They are:

  1. Control the release – create “Pull” by gating the release of work into production.
  2. Synchronize activities – align upstream operations to downstream needs, paying attention to convergence points and final assembly.
  3. Continuous improvement – use the first two Elements as a baseline for defining areas for continuous improvement – and never get complacent.
  4. Extend to the supply chain – synchronize activities beyond the factory to the extended supply chain.
  5. Align metrics – 6 metric categories to monitor for driving action in Demand-Driven Manufacturing environments.

On their own, each of these Elements would likely improve production flow. Our position is that by working these Elements together, you take a demand-driven leap in overall flow improvement. An episode of the podcast, Demand-Driven Matters, explains this in greater detail – along with data points on actual improvements manufacturers have gained:


Recently, we’ve been hearing from more manufacturers who want to do more with what they have. That is, drive flow to the point that they’ve increased capacity to take on more work – or enter new markets. One client we worked with saw the Demand-Driven method – and its ability to drive flow – as a means to expand one of their business units without dramatically increasing headcount. Another client was able to use this method to free capacity to enter a new market – and doubled revenue in 2.5 years.

In upcoming posts, we’ll review each Element in greater detail – you can also learn more about them through the Demand-Driven Matters podcast. In the meantime, let us know if you’ve worked through any or all of these Elements – and what your results were.

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