What Are Managed Buffers?

Managed Buffers


The purpose of managed buffers is to control the risk of poor quality in the operation and the potential of passing it on to the customer by limiting the Work In Progress.

Managed Buffers also support the concept of flow by de-coupling assembly lines from each other enabling them to run independently for a limited time.  If the Managed Buffers fill up to the maximum level, the assembly lines will stop. However, minor stops between assembly lines will not impact the preceding lines enabling them to run smoothly.

The key point from a Build In Quality viewpoint is that the Managed Buffers limit the potential number of defects in the system and ultimately the cost of non quality.


  • Address problems at point of cause
  • Drives a rapid response approach to problem solving
  • Minimises operational exposure to poor quality
  • New Product, Process or Service (NPI) Introduction Zero Defects
  • Supports the ‘No Defects Forward’


graphic showing how to control WIP using managed buffers



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This page was written by Bob Newton in February 2018.
Due for review in 2019.

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