Yamazumi (work balancing) highlights 12% throughput improvement


A disc brake pad manufacturing business questioned its ‘conventional wisdom’ of assigning operators to semi-automatic presses.  Working with press operators, CLS analysed press loading, cycling and unloading cycle times over a range of press cure times to identify the opportunity for a 12% increase in production throughput.  During this 5-day engagement CLS also worked with press operators to conduct a successful trial of the re-imagined press assignment scenario.


Manufacture of OEM and aftermarket brakes on manual presses requires a range of press cycle times to meet product quality requirements.  A broad family of brake pad materials and pad sizes that need to be hand-weighed to +/- 0.1g further complicates the production process.

So it was no surprise that it was easiest for management to simply assign fixed numbers of presses to operators at the beginning of each shift, independent of press cycle times.  This arrangement, however, gave rise to lost productive capacity in the form of available press time, wherein a press would await an operators to unload, reload and re-start it whilst the operator performed the same actions on a different press.  It also caused the opposite situation, wherein operators would wait for the semi-automatic presses to finish their curing cycles.

What we did:

CLS worked with press operators and area leaders to:

  • analyse demand patterns for the 3.5 million manually produced brake pads per year to determine required takt (pulse) times for each brake pad curing cycle
  • depict press working sequences and capacity losses using visual yamazumi techniques to identify lost capacity opportunities
  • re-balance incremental work among the press operators
  • conduct a trial of the improved work balance situation.

Type of Business:

Sector contact for more information:
Todd Standal

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