Monday, October 11, 2004

Traffic Flow.or not

Traffic Flow...or not

Just before 5pm last Friday afternoon, a foolish squirrel made his last decision on this earth and took a wrong step in a nearby power substation.  The resulting electrical outage hit most of this part of town for several hours. 


Out of my office window, I noted the stoplights at a busy intersection were knocked out as well.  Within 15 minutes of our bushy-tailed friend being fricasseed, the traffic was backed up 10 times farther than normal.  Slowly, cars approached the intersection and, one at a time, eased through.  Left turns, right turns, straight ahead.  It was not a place for the faint of heart. 


At first blush, this seemed to be "single piece flow".  One car at a time, moving through the intersection.  But, if single piece flow speeds production, why was the backup so long? 


First blush was wrong.  Single piece flow is about "flow" much more than it is about "single piece".  Flow was completely destroyed due to the non-functioning traffic lights.  While one car at a time eased through the intersection, many, many more had flow totally wiped out as they sat in rush hour traffic on a dismal, rainy late Friday afternoon. 


A functioning traffic light releases flow for a period of time in one direction, then releases flow in another, and so forth.  Well-timed traffic lights sequence flow through a series of intersections in a city.  The focus is on flow.  Always flow. 


Find some way to improve flow today.  I hope this is helpful.  And warn a squirrel while you are at it.   



No comments: