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The word “designing” is used intentionally, and means that the material delivery system, including the definition of the actual delivery routes, is an extension of the line design itself. Just like a production line is designed for a certain Takt Time, the rhythm or beat of the line, the delivery system needs to have a cycle that it is designed for, and that it is able to achieve consistently.
A Delivery System documents all of the necessary aspects of material delivery by a material handler. Central to a replenishment plan is a setting of inventory quantities to be delivered, for each active part number. You will then set the Replenishment Cycle, the frequency of actual physical deliveries. Think bus schedule. This cycle will drive the staffing needs, the equipment needs, the inventory quantities, and the length of the delivery route. It serves a similar function as “Takt Time” does on the production line, setting the rhythm or beat of the replenishment cycle.
A Delivery Route is an outcome of the Replenishment Plan. It is the physical path that a Material Handler follows from a central parts location to various consuming locations. Note that the consuming location is normally a Point of Use on the production line, but it can also be a Material Supermarket location. Whether you use a hand-cart, a tugger, a fork truck, or an AGV, the goal is to define the physical path that will be traveled.
THE TAXI VERSUS STREETCAR DECISION
Given the nature of a mixed model flow line, you need to design your replenishment system to support a wide variety of parts in calculated quantities and on a frequent basis. Think of two very different forms of transportation systems:
Taxis. Go anywhere, anytime, on call. No schedule, some deadhead runs, and sometimes a little hectic. Can be pretty quick to serve any one request, but as an overall system the taxi concept has its weaknesses. It may not be the best for a complex line relying on linked, balanced and well-smoothed production.
Streetcar. In contrast, think of a first-class streetcar or transit system, operating on a fixed route, engineered entry and exit points, published and predictable timetable, and runs on time!
A Mixed-Model Flow Line depends on levelled production scheduling, careful sequencing, timely presentation of numerous part numbers at lineside, and all functioning according to