Back to Glossary Home

Point of Use

Quick Definition

Point of use is a technique of distributing products and tools to the point in the manufacturing process where they will be used and are needed. The point of use increases efficiency in the manufacturing process by reducing unnecessary movement and time spent obtaining products or tools. By utilizing point of use methods, manufacturing plants can reduce lead time, manufacturing cycle time and improve efficiency and potential profitability.

What is Point of Use?

Point of Use (POU) is a fundamental technique in lean manufacturing and inventory management that refers to the strategic placement of materials, components, tools, or supplies at the location where they are needed in the manufacturing process. This approach is central to the principles of lean manufacturing, which aim to eliminate waste, optimize efficiency, and streamline production operations.

Key aspects and considerations related to the term "point of use" include:

  1. Lean Manufacturing: Lean manufacturing is a methodology that focuses on reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and delivering value to customers. POU is a key component of lean principles.
  2. Manufacturing Process: POU is applicable to various stages of the manufacturing process, ensuring that necessary items are readily available where and when they are needed.
  3. Raw Materials: POU can involve positioning raw materials or components at the precise location where they will be used, minimizing handling and transportation.
  4. Production Line: POU principles are often implemented along production lines to ensure that workers have immediate access to the materials required for each step of the process.
  5. Kanban: Kanban is a visual signaling system that helps manage inventory and production. POU storage and replenishment are aligned with Japanese kanban principles to maintain optimal inventory levels.
  6. Supply Chain: POU extends beyond the factory floor to incorporate supply chain considerations, ensuring that materials are available from suppliers exactly when needed.
  7. Inventory Management: POU reduces excess inventory by maintaining only the necessary quantity of materials at each workstation or production area.
  8. Just-in-Time (JIT): POU is closely associated with the JIT production approach, where materials are delivered and used just in time to meet customer demand, minimizing overproduction and waste.
  9. Value Stream: POU is part of optimizing the value stream, which includes all the activities required to deliver a product or service to customers.
  10. Point of Use Storage: POU storage solutions are designed to keep materials organized and easily accessible, contributing to efficient operations.
  11. Lower Cost: Implementing POU practices can lead to cost savings by reducing excess inventory, minimizing material handling, and improving overall production efficiency.
  12. Toyota Production System (TPS): POU is a core component of the Toyota Production System, which is known for its emphasis on waste reduction and continuous improvement.
  13. 5S Methodology: POU aligns with the "Set in Order" (one of the 5S principles) by organizing work areas for maximum efficiency and visual management.
  14. Pull System: POU operates on a pull system, where materials are replenished based on actual consumption rather than forecasted demand.
  15. Lead Time: Reducing lead times is a key objective of POU, ensuring that materials are readily available when required, minimizing production delays.
  16. Kaizen: Kaizen, the practice of continuous improvement, often includes optimizing POU strategies to eliminate bottlenecks and streamline processes.
  17. Floor Space: Efficient POU can help optimize floor space utilization by eliminating the need for large storage areas.
  18. Metrics: Key performance metrics, such as cycle times, downtime, and inventory levels, are used to assess the effectiveness of POU implementations.
  19. Material Handling: POU minimizes material handling and transportation, reducing the risk of damage, errors, and inefficiencies.
  20. Connectivity: In modern manufacturing, POU practices are often enhanced by connectivity and digital technologies that enable real-time tracking and monitoring of materials and supplies.

The Role of Modern Manufacturing Solutions

Modern manufacturing solutions optimize the "point of use" concept by implementing lean thinking and Six Sigma principles. They streamline assembly lines and manufacturing systems, ensuring that workers have easy access to the necessary materials and tools exactly where they are needed. This approach minimizes wasted time searching for items, reduces work-in-progress (WIP), and enhances efficiency. Additionally, modern solutions facilitate point-of-use inventory management and labeling, simplifying the process further. As a result, organizations can achieve higher productivity, reduced lead times, and improved overall manufacturing performance.

In summary, "point of use" (POU) is a cornerstone of lean manufacturing and inventory management that emphasizes the strategic positioning of materials and resources precisely where they are needed in the production process. By minimizing waste, optimizing efficiency, and aligning with lean principles, POU contributes to the overall success of manufacturing operations. It encompasses various aspects of manufacturing, from raw materials to finished products, and is a central component of continuous improvement initiatives.