The baton-touch approach

The following question came this morning from Diogo Cardoso:

What is baton-touch in terms of product oriented manufacturing systems? I have made a deep research about this on Science Direct and other resources but I can find nothing more than an inconclusive paragraph.

Your researched the wrong sources. You could have found your answer in Working with Machines, pp. 140-142. Baton-touch is one of three approaches used to design operator jobs in cells, the other two being the caravan/rabbit-chase and bucket-brigades. The key differences are as follows:

  • In the baton-touch method, each operator performs a fixed subset of the cell’s operations, organized in a fixed sequence. It is commonly used in cells requiring three or more operators making a narrow range of products with similar work content.
    The baton-touch

    The baton-touch

  • In the caravan or rabbit-chase method, the operators follow each other through the entire sequence of operations in the cell. It requires each operator to be skilled in all the operations of the cell, and works well with up to two operators but breaks down with three or more operators, as they queue behind the slowest member of the team.
    The caravan/rabbit chase

    The caravan/rabbit chase

  • In the bucket-brigade method, the operators are in sequence, but the scope of each operator’s tasks varies. When the last operator finishes a unit, he or she takes over the next unit from the preceding operator, who in turn takes over from his or her predecessor, and so on, until the first operator, who starts the next unit. Bucket-brigades are used with a broad mix of custom or configurable products, and work when the faster operators are always downstream from the slower ones. For details, see John Bartholdi’s article on bucket brigades.
    Bucket brigades

    Bucket brigades

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