What is Line Balancing in Manufacturing

The Line balancing Process in manufacturing is used to create the layout of a production line in such a way that the workload is equally distributed at various manufacturing stations to achieve the desired talk time. In this way, various stages on a production line are defined to achieve a balanced line.

For example, if the takt time for a product is 5 minutes. For a perfectly balanced line, all stages on the line shall be finished in 5 minutes. If a processing time is greater than takt time, either it shall be done offline or at two stations. Here the takt time is the time in which a product shall be manufactured to fullfill customer demand.

In this article, we will discuss the advantages of line balancing and how to implement it in a manufacturing line.

Examples

The above image shows an unbalanced production line because the human resources and machines are not utilized 100%. For example, at station-6 the operator is working only for 10 seconds. Therefore 50 seconds are wasted.

Above production line is a balanced line because human and machine resources are utilized fully. When compared to an unbalanced manufacturing line. A balanced manufacturing line requires 9 operators at 6 stations compared to 8 operators and 8 stations required in an unbalanced manufacturing line. But the talk time in the balanced line is reduced to 20 seconds compared to 60 seconds in the un-balanced manufacturing Line.

How do we know if a Manufacturing Line is Unbalanced?

One of the ways to know if a production line is unbalanced is to plot the bar chart for the time of various manufacturing operations. From the above graph, we can conclude that the difference between the processing time at station 1 and station 3 is very high. During Line balancing, we shall aim to reduce the process time difference to zero.

Advantages of Line Balancing?

Line balancing is a part of Lean Manufacturing technique. Implementing line balancing on a production line can have the following advantages:

  • Effective utilization of machines and workforce.
  • Reduced Wastage
  • Reduced Idle time
  • Increased Productivity
  • Reduced Manufacturing Cost

How to Achieve Line Balancing On Manufacturing Line?

Line Balancing on a production line can be achieved in some of the following Steps.

  1. Finalize the Takt time
  2. Reduce the Wastage from the manufacturing process.
  3. Perform the time studies
  4. Update the production line layout and Reallocate the resources
Step-1: Finalize the Takt Time

Takt time is the time in which a product shall be manufactured to fullfill customer requirements. This value can be calculated by dividing available time by the number of products to be manufactured. For example, if you require 150 products in 450 minutes. Takt time for the product will be 3 minutes.

Step-2: Reduce the Wastage

Unwanted processes are removed for the production line to improve productivity and achieve the required Takt time.

Step-3: Perform the Time Studies

Time studies are done to determine the actual time required to complete a task on the production line. Afterward, this data is used for line layout design.

Step-4: Update Production Line layout and Reallocate the Resources

Production line layout is modified if any task is taking more time than takt time or the workforce is sitting idle. In the above example, the incoming inspection process was taking 60 seconds, which was much higher than the time for top cover assembly.

In this case, to reduce the takt time 3 operators will do an incoming inspection and the battery & screw assembly process will be done by one operator.

We will keep adding more information on Line Balancing in manufacturing. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions on Line Balancing in manufacturing in the comment box.

We suggest you also read this article on quality assurance and quality control.

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