Check your Process Knowledge

Welcome to a new blog post.

In many situations, process knowledge is essential to establish a baseline for issue resolution. Some questions follow to do a check on your process knowledge. See how many you can answer and let me know if you get stuck (

• What types of variability exist?

• What happens to throughput rate when the service rate is variable?

• We often work with ‘averages’ in processes: how does variability affect a process performance when the average is stable?

• What is buffer size? As buffer size grows, what happens to a process? Why?

• What role does ‘excess’ capacity play in a buffered process?

• ‘For variable systems, we must have utilization less than one’. Why is this so?

• But, every operations manager wants to run equipment at very high utilization to achieve maximum production! How is this statement actually counter-intuitive?

• In a manual-process driven warehouse, slot lock will occur when storage slots are filled over about 80-85%. Can you explain?

• Relate the following process terms when variability occurs: cycle time, WIP, utilization, wait time

• How can you identify a bottleneck in a process?

• What costs can buffers incur?

• Can you identify ways to manage buffers?

Thanks to UBC and past students!

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