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Line balancing in a layout refers to the arrangement of machine capacity with the aim of securing relatively uniform flow at capacity operation. It is a layout having equal operating times at the successive operations in the complete form of the process. An unbalanced production line may lead to poor machinery utilization, a reason for product layout requiring line balancing. A typical example is a production line with work stations A, B and C with each having the capacity to produce 200 items, 100 items, and 50 items per hour respectively.

If each of the machines were to produce only 50 items per hour then each hour the machines at A and B would be idle for 45 and 30 minutes respectively. Such a layout will be unbalanced and the production line needs balancing. Another example is a baking factory with its oven continuously baking loaves at the rate of 800 loaves per hour and the wrapping machine only wrapping 400 loaves per hour. This kind of system is an unbalanced system, thus requiring line balancing.

Benefits of Line Balancing

  • Elimination of bottleneck operations as well as
  • Prevention of unnecessary duplication of equipment capacity.
  • Increased production efficiencies and rate.

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Methods of Line Balancing

  • The first and obvious possibility in the right direction is to increase the output.
  • Another possibility is that another product be sent close to the first one so that some idle machines are used jointly.
  • The last possibility is to estimate the output of the last work station which can be considered as the minimum output of all the intermediate work stations.

A point to note while balancing a machine it is important to see that output of fastest ma­chine be multiple of the output of the remaining other machines.

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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB) Professional and Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001, ISO 22000/FSSC 22000 etc.) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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