What are Manufacturing Cells?

Definition: Manufacturing cells are groups of machinery or people that are grouped in a way that makes the manufacturing process more efficient. In other words, they are stations where the layout of machinery is based on flow rather than machine type. These cells are used in organizations who engage in cellular manufacturing in an effort to reduce waste and be leaner.

What Does Manufacturing Cells Mean?

What is the definition of manufacturing cell? Traditionally, a manufacturing process happens in a set up where machines of the same type are in the same location on a manufacturing floor. However, in a cellular manufacturing environment, the process determines the layout. This system is often put in place to improve the flow of resources and to help the company operate in a leaner fashion.

It may sound like all companies should implement a system that uses manufacturing cells rather than more traditional manufacturing systems. However, there are some downsides to changing a manufacturing process into a cellular one. It is often the case that cells require the same machinery, meaning that the company will need to supply a machine for each cell rather than just one machine in a traditional system. This means that a process using manufacturing cells is usually relatively expensive.

Let’s look at an example.


Carl is the general manager at a manufacturing plant that uses a traditional manufacturing process. He would like to propose a plan to the company’s headquarters to implement a cellular manufacturing plan at his plant. What factors should Carl consider when writing his proposal?

First, Carl needs to consider the cost compared to his company’s resources. If Carl’s company is in a good position to invest heavily in equipment, then his proposal will make more sense. Next, Carl should consider the nature of the product that he manufactures and how the product would be affected by a change in the manufacturing process.

Summary Definition

Define Manufacturing Cells: Manufacturing cell means a workstation with a grouping of machines or equipment designed to specific product or perform a production process.