Small Batch Train – November 2017

Givens Gerber and Pennington Grove have both recently began using a production method called a Small Batch Train (SBT). SBT is a type of production line through which work is advanced from dwelling unit to dwelling until on a first-in-first-out basis. The idea is to approximately balance processing rates of the different dwelling units so that all crew and equipment can perform productive work nearly uninterruptedly.

Key in this SBT is that work gets done in small chunks (i.e. one trade contractor at a time). Each trade contractor is involved in one production task (or operation) and, once processed, is worked on by subsequent trade contractors one task at a time.

Another key is to identify the batch size (number of dwelling units) that a trade contractor will be expected to complete each day. For example, if a batch size is four dwelling units and the task is hanging drywall, the trade contractor is expected to hang sheetrock in all four units in one day. The next day the same trade contractor will be hanging sheetrock in another four units, and so on, and so on. Adjustment, up or down, in manpower to accomplish each task in one day is critical.

The project team will work together and define a strategy for moving through a building, recognizing that work content may vary from one location to the next. The project team will:

     Create a breakdown by area and component types (See sample project below)
     Select equipment and methods, identify those that will be shared
     Size the crew to match the actual circumstances
     Continually refine the methods design with actual crew in light of site constraints