What is a pacemaker ?
It means a single point along a value stream that sets the pace for the entire stream.
Only the pacemaker process receives the shedule from the production control operation.
Which process should we designate?
The pacemaker process usually is near the custmer end of the value stream,often the
final assembly area. Any upstream process can be a pacemaker, provided that products flow from this upstream process to the end of the value steam in a FIFO(First in,First out)sequence.
Do not confuse it with a bottleneck process.
The pacemaker process should not be confused with a bottleneck process.
Only the pacemaker receives the schedule.
Selecting a single point as the pacemaker enables everyone along the value stream to
keep working to the same beat ,the takt time at the pacemaker.
The pacemaker simplifies production oversight. Having only one scheduling point greatly reduces the need for coordination. The benefit is amplified when there is mixed-model production in a value stream. The actual demand determines the mix, and the pull signals generated by the pacemaker ensure that only the types of products that are needed are produced.
The Pacemaker Process
The production schedule is planned according to takt time, and is sent to the pacemaker process. It pulls from the upstream processes.
Upstream processes ONLY produce when the pacemaker sends its signal. If there are multiple products, supermarkets are used.
Continuous flow is used downstream from the pacemaker to manage production.
There are several things to consider when selecting a pacemaker.
The pacemaker should be reliable. If it is frequently down for maintenance, it wreaks havoc on the rest of the value stream.
It should have minimal setup times to prevent surges.
The closer it is to the end of production, the more linked it is to the customer. The downside is that it might drive more inventory into supermarkets on the upstream processes.
Branches in production processes need to be upstream of the pacemaker, or have a supermarket.