Designing a line side delivery

Line side delivery, what is it?

Let’s take the analogy of the restaurant: you are at the table, there are plates, bottles, salt, pepper and bread in front of you. You serve yourself regularly at your own pace. The waiter on his side, comes to supply the table at a lower frequency than you’re eating.

Line side delivery is the same thing:  the operator “uses” pieces for assembling at his pace and the supplier comes at a lower frequency than that of the turn of keys.

Line side delivery provides the interface between those who produce, the fitters and those who transfer, internal logistics.

Line side delivery integrates the constraints of each other, while letting everyone work at their own pace:

  • The producer who assembles wants to mover as little as possible and requires the shortest workstation. It imposes compact packaging (bins or trolleys).
  • The supplier wants to make his trips profitable, and requires a low delivery frequency. It imposes the autonomy of the line side and therefore its depth
Line side delivery is a nomen’s land in a company. It’s an area that is not technical enough to concern production methods and too detailed to concern logistics. And yet it is important because it defines the economic performance of the plant. Therefore, below we have given several tips to integrate in the design of the line edge delivery.

Well-designed packaging

First of all, a container must be defined for each part. This was the subject of a previous article: “how to design good packaging”

Common ergonomic window

To protect the operator’s backs, we prevent them from bending down. The pieces are placed in the ergonomic window. As the operators change and are different sizes, the common ergonomic window is between 700 mm to 1300 mm. However, we are talking about taking a piece.

As it is the grip of the pieces that must be in the ergonomic window, the large pieces will be placed at the bottom. Therefore their container will be lower and the front capacity of the Rack will be increased.

Operator works in a low position but still within the ergonomic window

All under 1 300 mm

In order for the operator to work in good conditions, he must be able to see far and even outside. On the other hand, if he is in difficulty, the workshop management must be able to identify this situation and come to support him. Therefore the edge of the line must be below 1300 mm.

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A single way of supply

It happens that supplies are placed at 90° to each other. This creates empty areas that unnecessarily consume surface and collect miscellaneous objects. By choosing a single way of supply, the surface is optimized and the space clarified. To comply with this rule, there are several types of supply:

  • Frontal: the pieces arrive perpendicular to the axis of the line
  • Transversal: large containers or trolleys leave on the other side of the line
  • Lateral: the parts are taken from the side by the operator, especially at the end of the U-shaped line
  • Tangential: large pieces scroll along the sides of the line

A return line (All down the drain)

All down the drain is a luxe that no one will be able to live without. Used water returns to the water-treatment plant for a new cycle. This is the same for packaging: as soon as the last piece is taken, next cycle, the operator evacuates the container in a line towards the outside of the line. For trolleys, it will be the same: a line is created for « the empty ».  These lines can be put together. We then ensure that they will never be saturated between two passages of internal logistics. For the trolleys, the return for « the empty »will be placed between two corridors of parts to allow lateral transfer by “square step”.

“Limit the impact of frequencies”

The return of empty containers (containers or trolleys) is perceived as a constraint for the operator whose primary action is manufacturing. By putting the return at the bottom, the operator only has to follows the container which slides naturally.

For any input check the output.

Physical guidance

At 70 km/h, the trains cross each other with a spacing of 0.25 m, whereas 1 m is provided for cars. Thanks to the guidance of the rails, we gain 4 times more space between the Rollis. To optimize as much as possible the length of the line delivery, each container, like each trolley, must be physically guided

Taking from above

Some line side units have sloped containers at the end of the row (broken) to allow parts to be picked up. This is due to the use of deep containers with multiple layers of products. This increases the vertical size of the layer by 30%.

By using dynamic racks with taking pieces from above, the space is reduced and the number of supplied parts are increased. The surface and by the operators walk distance are reduced.

One-piece, single-layer containers

If a container has dividers or lids, there must be a dedicated place to put them. This consumes space and furthermore a multi-layered container will require the operator to reach in further to accede the lower levels. With a single-layer container: zero dividers, zero unnecessary gestures, more space for other references.

Small pieces will be placed in butter trays whose small width allows the pieces to be picked up without constraining the hand while having a small frontal surface.

Fixed units

The line side delivery accommodates mobile containers and trolleys. There are always efforts or even shocks during the introduction. So that the suppliers and operators gestures are repetitive, the infrastructures of the line side delivery are fixed, either placed, or screwed. Wheels under the line side units reduce their stability. Any cleaning of these areas is done with a vacuum cleaner and not by moving them.


The logistics staff who supply the line side delivery do intensive and fast work. To make it easier for them to fill up and avoid them from bumping into each other, all the line side delivery units on the logistics side must be perfectly aligned.

Two roll rule

At a minimum, there is 1 container being consumed and 1 container pending. If logistics have a resupplying of U (10/15/20/30/60 minutes) the line side delivery must have a capacity of 2U + 1 container to avoid any ruptures.

A reconfigurable line edge

Assembling is an activity that often changes due to liftings, new ranges, etc. This has a direct impact on the line side delivery, which will change. Racks and storage modules with a pitch of 450 mm allow this modularity and the investment becomes sustainable.

A gutter for the call signal

The line must inform its supplier, logistics, of what parts they have to deliver.  Different ways exist to send a signal to the logistics. For the Kanban system, a gutter will be placed on the line side delivery, to send back the Kanban cards to the Logistics.  To avoid the operator losing a card, a gutter will be placed every 2.5m.

The side supply

Des pièces peuvent être plus longues que la largeur de l’allée qui longe le bord de ligne. Il est alors impossible de les mettre en approvisionnement frontal classique. Le système de roues Track & Slide approvisionne les longues pièces en les déplaçant sur le côté depuis l’allée.


Engineer by training, 40 years in industry, trained by Toyota at TPS, director of industrial performance within the Valeo group, Jean LABADIE created Labadis in 2002 to support manufacturers in all sectors in setting up a simple organization, efficient and sustainable based on the Labadis system.

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