A constraint is a bottleneck that in some way holds up production. One area of your company is delayed while waiting for another. A milling operation may be held up because of problems with a machine in the lathe department, making the machine in lathe department the constraint. Assemblers may not be able to complete products on time because workpieces coming from a given CNC machine are behind schedule, making the CNC machine the constraint. Constraints are very common. All companies have them and should work to eliminate them.
There will always be, however, one constraint that is the most serious. This is the constraint that limits the overall output of your company, and is called the main constraint. Eliminating this constraint will increase your company’s output.
In one of the examples above, the CNC machine that holds up assembly may be the main constraint. Eliminating it will allow faster assembly component workpieces, letting the company ship more products.
Note that when you eliminate one main constraint, there will always be another. That is, there will always be something that limits your company’s overall output. As long as you are satisfied with the output coming from your company, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you need to produce more, identifying and eliminating main constraints must be your approach.
Even if you don’t currently have need to produce more, it is important to at least identify current main constraint – and to know what could be done to eliminate. The day may come when your company increase it’s output. And you’ll be ready.