Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Flow Cells

Using flow cell structure in the manufacturing and logistics industry makes operations more cost-efficient. There are a variety of ways that products can be assembled using different configurations and components, depending on the needs and priorities of the company.


Lean manufacturing principles can be custom applied to operations through modularly designed flow cells. The units should be set up so that products can be easily reached for ergonomic purposes as well as efficiency. The set-up of each unit should be reconfigurable for utmost flexibility when changes occur.


There are three typical flow cell configurations. One is a single lane cell set-up. It features one return level and two levels for picking. A high-profile span track is typically used for this kind. The second configuration is a gravity conveyor on a line side pick cell. Demanding applications use a roller gravity conveyor or a skate wheel setup. Both types should have interchangeable beams on all sides for easy assembly. A third type of configuration is the line side storage cell. This features several levels of live storage and/or feed units. In order to allow for maximum facings in the least amount of space, deck span tracks can be used. Posts on all models configured should include either a foot plate or casters; the wheels can be the swivel or rigid variety.


Every operation is different. It is for this reason that the assembly of the flow cell should be made of standard pieces that can be mixed and matched to fit the specific requirements for maximum efficiency and compatibility whenever possible. Each sub-assembly work cell needs a minimum of 4 vertical posts to ensure stability. Additional vertical posts can be added in tandem if desired. They should have holes at specific convenient increments for attachments. These posts are typically attached to each other by horizontal beams on all four sides, using bolts to connect them. Once the frame has been established, the interior of the flow cell can be filled in with span tracks, such as a roller flow track for maximum efficiency.

The size and number of tracks needed is determined by the individual workstation’s purpose. Compatible trays can be attached at the end of each span track to angle product toward the product picker. The length of the tray comes in different standard sizes, depending on the needs of the picker. A workbench is an optional component which can be attached between the posts to assist in efficiency. Attaching a toolbar for accessories at the top of the workstation is another option.