Pull vs. push manufacturing: Have you been stuck with an umbrella on a sunny day?

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I came across the following blog post at The Manufacturing Blog that gives a plain English description of pull-model production methods – how to be lean and demand-driven.

I particularly like Stephen’s analogy of push vs. pull manufacturing:

By trying to guess potential demand, manufacturers often found themselves in the same situation as someone carrying an umbrella on a sunny day because the forecast predicted rain: extra effort for no reason. Modern manufacturers prefer to stick their head out the window and check for rain before grabbing their umbrella, so to speak, limiting waste and maximizing efficiency.

As Stephen points out,

Understanding the many complex strategies behind these new manufacturing methods can be as difficult as predicting the weather, as they have brought along with them a series of three-letter acronyms that dominate jargon-filled conversations about current manufacturing trends, like JIT, TPM, QRM, and JIS. These letters don’t exactly help to explain the basic ideas behind pull-production manufacturing, which actually make a lot of sense when spoken in plain English.

Thus, Stephen gives us a plain English guide to the ‘alphabet soup’ and breaks things down to the key concepts of lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and flexible manufacturing. It’s a good overview.  And the long list of acronyms in the post reminds me of our Suitemates “Suites are Sour” comedy video episode – the acronyms in our industry are not just limited to manufacturing and supply chain terms, but also applies to the associated technology applications!

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Martin Buckley joined Kinaxis in the fall of 2007, where he is employed as an Integration Consultant. In this role, Martin is responsible for integrating the customer’s enterprise and planning data with Kinaxis RapidResponse, and ensuring RapidResponse is correctly configured to give the correct planning results. He has participated in or is currently participating in several implementations and upgrades, including Flextronics, Teradyne, and others. Before joining Kinaxis, Martin worked for 10 years as an independent ERP consultant and developer in the SMB space. He has directed over 30 implementations in various manufacturing segments including: aerospace, medical devices, consumer goods, bio-tech, automotive, food, durable goods, ag machinery, high tech electronics, and contract manufacturing. Martin also has had extensive experience in custom software solutions, BI, process engineering and workflow design, and systems integration. Before this Martin was Engineering and Projects Manager at Playtex Corp. Martin earned a Bachelor of Engineering, Automation Systems, from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Martin is a certified Professional Engineer as well.

More blog posts by Martin Buckley


  1. I know it’s good to keep things simple, especially when you explain complex concepts, but isn’t this a bit too simplistic?

    I mean, what happens if you look our the window, decide not to take your umbrella but it starts raining two hours later? You need to go back and get the umbrella, buy a new one or get wet.

    Not to mention that manufacturing is even more complicated than this.

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