(a.k.a. U-Shaped Cells, Work Cells) (1) Generally a horseshoe or U-Shaped work area layout that enables workers to easily move from one process to another in close proximity and pass parts between workers with little effort. "Cells" typically focus on the production of specific models in "part families" but can be adjusted to many different products as needed.
(2) Arranging machines in the correct process sequence, with operators remaining within the cell and materials presented to them from outside.
Cellular Manufacturing is a model for workplace design, and has become an integral part of lean manufacturing systems. Cellular Manufacturing is based upon the principals of Group Technology, which seeks to take full advantage of the similarity between parts, through standardisation and common processing. In Functional Manufacturing similar machines are placed close together (e.g. lathes, millers, drills etc.). Functional layouts are more robust to machine breakdowns, have common jigs and fixtures in the same area and supports high levels of demarcation. In Cellular Manufacturing systems machines are grouped together according to the families of parts produced. The major advantage is that material flow is significantly improved, which reduces the distance travelled by materials, inventory and cumulative lead times.
Cellular Manufacturing employs setup reduction and gives the workers the tools to be multiprocess, operating multiple processes, and multifunctional, owning quality improvements, waste reduction, and simple machine maintenance. This allows workers to easily self-balance within the cell while reducing lead times, resulting in the ability for companies to manufacture high quality products at a low cost, on time, and in a flexible way.
The goal of lean manufacturing is the aggressive minimisation of waste, called muda, to achieve maximum efficiency of resources. Cellular manufacturing, sometimes called cellular or cell production, arranges factory floor labor into semi-autonomous and multi-skilled teams, or work cells, who manufacture complete products or complex components. Properly trained and implemented cells are more flexible and responsive than the traditional mass-production line, and can manage processes, defects, scheduling, equipment maintenance, and other manufacturing issues more efficiently.