Bottleneck Theory

The core of congestion theory

A chain is only as good as the weakest link; a team only as strong as the weakest.

The core of bottleneck theory are the following five focus steps.

1. Identify system bottleneck

Every system has a bottleneck that limits its performance (throughput). This bottleneck can be a low-capacity team or a machine. It is also possible that management is the bottleneck when, for example, all decisions   have to be made by superiors and work is thus blocked.

2. Full utilization of the system bottleneck

If the bottleneck is known, the way of working must be questioned and improved. The main goal is to fully utilize the bottleneck.

The optimization is done from two perspectives:

Firstly, the bottleneck must never stand still. Accordingly, must always have labor reserves. Instead of the lunch breaks, for example, it would be better if the team were divided into two break shifts.
Second: Question whether all bottleneck work steps actually have to be dealt with by the bottleneck.
3. Subordinate all remaining work steps to the bottleneck

So that there is only as much work in the system as the bottleneck can handle, all remaining work must be subordinated to the bottleneck. This leaves time to effectively support the bottleneck (e.g. quality control before the bottleneck to identify errors early and conserve resources; optimization of your own processes; cleanliness).

4. Fix the bottleneck

If a team is the bottleneck, additional employees can be hired, for example; for a machine   the shift work or an additional machine could solve the bottleneck.

Since this is usually associated with investments and usually increases the fixed costs, the inexpensive   focusing steps must first be done.

5. Start over at the first step

If a bottleneck is removed, a new one is created automatically. The trick is not to rest on your laurels so far and to stay on the ball