Bottleneck Operation

Bottle-neck operation is an operation where expected output is not coming from the operation. The lowest output point in the production line is also called a bottleneck. At bottleneck operation inventory increases and it blocks the next operation or line also.

Importance of Identification of Bottleneck Operation

  1. Bottleneck happen due to the difficulties faced by employees for the completion of task in the stipulated time.                                          
  2. Bottleneck causes a slowdown of production. Which leads to poor employee performance and lesser efficiency.
  3. Identification and removal of bottleneck operation improve organization. It improves productivity and production.

Ways or Activities to Improve
Bottleneck Operation

1. Add Additional Manpower of Machine

The easiest way to increase production at bottleneck operations is to add labor and machine. This will definitely remove bottleneck operation but this technique is not that feasible because additional labor or machine puts additional cost. Good management never does this mistake.

2. Work for an Extra Hours

Most of the industries follow this method. Labor do overtime to make enough pieces and create work in process for next day.

3. Method Improvement

Industrial engineer do method study to find out a better method, which takes less time for same task. With better method, fewer efforts are needed and more production can be achieved. Improved method can be done with provision of work aids like folders attachment, trolley, or machine automation etc.

4. Improve Work Station Layout

The operator is performing cycle from pick up to pick up if work station is improved with consideration of ergonomics then it reduces material handling time and results into time-saving with increased production.

5. Better Operator Allocation

Allocated high work content job to the highly skilled operator and low skill labor allocated comparatively low work content. To do this effectively operators are graded from A to C class (A for highly skilled operator B is for moderate or C for low skilled labor). Right allocation is important to get better production.

6. Use Time Saving Tricks

Lots of Time is spent by operator in materials handling and associated job. Here are some way to time saving bottleneck.

  • Use well-conditioned machines or modern machines
  • Reduce rework as rework increases time loss and causes a bottleneck
  • By reducing ineffective time.
  • The proper layout can save some material moment time
  • Proper SOP implementation
  • Make material available in time


Let us understand bottleneck with one example.  Five operators are sewing shirt collar. The table shows how the material is moving, a list of operations their capacities and achieved production.

Bottleneck Operation
Bottleneck Operation

The operations are performed one after another so the next operator can get maximum pieces as made by the previous operator. All operation has the same work content and capacity is the same as 100 pieces. Here forth operator is making 55 pieces, so maximum 55 pieces can only be made in the line per hour and the material will be stuck at 4th operation. This 4th operation is now a bottleneck operation.

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