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Line Balancing Goals

An overburdened worker or team in any process can have a domino effect on production — causing delays and bottlenecks throughout the entire process. Line balancing is one way you can make sure this doesn’t happen.

Avoiding a bottleneck

If you have an unbalanced line, work is distributed unevenly across the line. Consider an example. The assembly line for a company that makes digital cameras has three teams — the first team assembles the cameras. A second, smaller team tests them, and a third team packages them once they’re tested.

But the testing team keeps falling behind — the assembly team is delivering completed cameras faster than they can test them. This is causing a bottleneck, which results in delays, and increased costs. It’s also frustrating for all team members — the testing team is overworked; the packaging team wastes time waiting for tested cameras to arrive.

A continuous workflow

In a balanced line, work is distributed evenly across the line. This means each employee completes the same amount of work in roughly the same amount of time. This establishes a continuous workflow and delays are eliminated as a result.

The production manager at the camera company decides to move some members of the assembly team to the testing team. This way the testing team is able to keep up with assembly, because the line is more balanced — the completed cameras are arriving for testing at much the same rate as people are able to test them.