Glossary Term: Continuous-Flow Manufacturing (CFM)

Continuous-Flow Manufacturing (CFM) is a method of manufacturing where the materials being processed are constantly moving through the production line. Continuous-flow manufacturing is in opposition to batch production, where materials only move through the production line at a specified time or in specified amounts. CFM smooths the process of manufacturing by ensuring constant movement through the production line until the final product is complete, wherein batch production has units waiting in a queue until the latter part of the production line is ready for the parts to be processed. Ideally, in continuous-flow manufacturing, products would move sequentially through the system at a pace that reduces delay and lead times. CFM optimizes production and integrates automation into all elements of production.

As products move efficiently through the production line, continuous-flow manufacturing decreases Work-in-Process (WIP), inventory and non-value added labor. CFM increases manufacturing efficiency, labor efficiency and reduces product defects through the production line.

Continuous-flow manufacturing may be referred to as continuous manufacturing, continuous flow, or continuous processing.

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