One-piece flow, sometimes called continuous flow, is a production method used instead of traditional mass production. In mass production, materials move through the manufacturing process in batches. In one-piece flow, a product is completed before the next one is started.
While this method of production may not seem intuitive, it is actually faster than performing Step 1 of a process on 100 products at once before moving on to Step 2. In mass production, it takes time to switch tasks or move products as a group. One-piece flow is generally more efficient, limits the amount of work in process, and prevents bottlenecks.
Setting up a workplace for one-piece flow production can require some rearranging of workstations. Each step in the process should be placed next to the subsequent step to reduce motion.