“There are no free lunches.”

(excerpted from The Pipeline)


“I have a couple of questions”, said a superintendent.  “The concept of variation buffering makes sense, but how does a production system sort all this out?  You can say that you won’t allow any buffering, but is that even possible?”

“No, it’s not”, replied the intrepid, results-based consultant, answering the second question first.  “It doesn’t matter if you say you won’t allow buffers.  A system will buffer variation.  The Law of Variability Buffering is no different than the Law of Gravity.  The question is only how it will buffer the variation.

“It is easier to take away the inventory and capacity buffer”, she continued.  “You can cap inventory or freeze hiring, and probably make it stick.  But, time is really a self-determining buffer.  Duration is the buffer overflow valve.  Absent some progress on reducing variation and some combination of higher inventory or excess capacity, you will simply wind up mandating cycle times that cannot possibly be achieved.

“There are no free lunches.

“Production performance hinges on these four interdependent measures:  variation, time, capacity, and inventory.”


(The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production is available on the publisher website (virtualbookworm.com), through the author website (thepipelinebook.com), as well as amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and booksamillion.com)