Though I have some reservations (see below), this video shows a lot of good examples of flow for final assembly – only the assembly line is vertical, and the product is a 30 story hotel.
The video actually repeats twice, once with a music sound track, then a second time with no sound.
All in all, this is pretty impressive. Let’s look at the good examples that you can incorporate into your own thinking.
First, the product is designed for quick and easy assembly from the get-go. The engineers thought through how it would go together as a core part of their design process. There was no “throw it over the wall and figure it out” here.
The design itself is very modular. Detail work is done off-line in the “feeders.” This is how you want to set up an assembly line – the backbone (main line) is installation of “big chunks” that are assembled and tested in the feeders. This helps stabilize the work on the main line.
The assembly itself was flowing. Each floor progressed subsequently through the assembly stages as more stories were being added at the top. Contrast this with the more common approach of finishing the frame, then batching the various trades through.
What We Don’t Know
It is clear that this was done as a stunt. They did a good job. There are, however, legitimate questions about how, or if, the work was organized to surface and deal with quality issues. What was the line-stop process?
There are also legitimate questions in the building trade about the long-term stability of foundations and structure that does not have time to settle as it is going up. Building that go up fast can come down fast. We truthfully don’t have enough information to make a judgment here, but I want to acknowledge those concerns as realistic whenever we see something like this.
Apparently those issues are unfounded. I admit I was repeating what I had read elsewhere. I am certainly not an expert. (See comment below)
Still, it is really cool so I wanted to share it as a good application of flow thinking.