Earlier in this chapter, we described the efficiencies that repetitive process layouts provide. Repetitive process layouts are perfectly suited for driving out non-value-added activities and transitioning to a JIT environment. Intermittent layouts feature dozens or even hundreds of different paths through the facility. They are filled with complexity, uncertainty, and low visibility. Workers tend to have specialized skills, work independently of other departments, and have little sense of “ownership” of the products they work on.
In contrast, cell layouts promote JIT goals by featuring unidirectional product flows, high visibility, and fast throughput times. Workers with multifunctional skills are assigned to individual cells and have responsibility and control of the products they produce. Workers in a cell environment tend to have a greater sense of ownership and pride in their work because they have a “big picture” view of the product as it is converted from raw material to a finished good. This deeper understanding of the production process increases the opportunities for workers to contribute ideas for process improvements.