Building flexible manufacturing cells

Cell building

Cell building is a classic lean tool for the implementation of flexible production: lead time and WIP stock is reduced drastically while reaction time to failures improves dynamically. Identify and eliminate wastes through implementation of lean thinking. Cell building is in close relationship with standard work, SMED and 6S.
Cella építés

The Cell concept originates from the English word Cell.

A cell is the smallest structural unit capable of independent operation and showing signs of life – it converts nutrients into energy. A real manufacturing cell does the same: it converts raw materials into finished products. Classic assembly cells are „U" shaped, where work is performed inside, while materials are supplied from the outside.

It is recommended to use if you encounterLean cella

  • Long lead times
  • High inventory levels between operations
  • Low output
  • Difficulty of replacing absent workers
  • Tightly packed production area

Cella építés autóiparThe building of a lean manufacturing cell can reduce the space requirement of production, and the quantity of resources required for manufacturing. With shorter lead times it results in more efficient production, usually with higher output.

Cell manufacturing is characterized by a significant increase in the ratio of value-adding operations (elimination of wastes), it supports the sustainment of 6S, the meeting of quality requirements (reduction of the scrap rate), and increases the availability of machines (productivity).


Fields of effect of lean cellsCourse of the Cell building eventRelated lean tools
Lead time
  1. Collection of producion line data
One Piece flow
WIP inventories
  1. Definition of non-value-adding activities
Basic lean principles
Space requirement of production
  1. Definition of customer demands
Just in Time
Flexible labour force
  1. Creation of continuous flow
One Piece Flow
More efficient problem-solving
  1. Development of the layout, rearrangement
Line Design, VSM
6S indexes, visuality
  1. Training courses
6S, TPM principles
Continuous flow
  1. Standard process documentation
Standard work

Misconceptions about cell building:

It does not improve the condition of the machines

It does not mean the tight-packing of machines and workers

The development of a flexible labour force requires training courses

The rearrangement of machines involves costs

The reorganization of work processes requires resources

Changeover to standing work may cause resistance among the workers

The new material flow may change the warehouse processes


  • what does it not solve?
  • what resources does it require? 
  • what pitfalls can arise?

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