Zero Buffer

Short Description

Whenever buffer occurs in your supply chain, regardless if inside the production or not, there is the risk of scraping or reworking all of the parts once quality issues occur. For that reason, in all productions you have to get rid of any buffer. As in some cases you cannot remove a buffer between two process steps completely, you have to define what kind of buffer it is, how big it has to be and how long it must stay there.

10_Zero Buffer_House

Why do you have to achieve Zero Buffers?

One Piece Flow

Allows a One Piece Flow

Less fixed Capital

Buffer means capital. That means: the less the better

Less Space usage

Buffer takes away valuable and important production space

Quick Response on Defects and Quality Issues

Visualize Waste

Operators can not hide waste of equipment or process behind buffer

Faster throughput time

Buffer means waiting time for materials. That pulls the throughput time down extremely

How do you achieve Zero Buffers?

10_Zero Buffer_How

Work in Progress Buffer between two Stations

  • In case of a product changeover a huge buffer of work in progress parts can cause issues and decrease your flexibility.
  • A huge buffer between stations gives your operators the feeling of safety. If something in their process goes wrong, they can cover that by enough WIP material between the stations. This on the other hand will hide the issue the particular operator had and blocks you from eliminating the issue.
  • If the downstream process step figures out issues, he stops the line. At that point in time it could be that all the parts inside the buffer may have the same issue. Compared to an one piece flow, just that single part having that issue has to be scraped or reworked.

Enabler for:

10_Zero Buffer_Enabler


Training document – Zero Buffer (pptx)
Training document – Zero Buffer (PDF)
Template – Value Stream Mapping (xlsx)
Template – Value Stream Design (xlsx)