Copyright to Skip Reedy © 2012.
Published here December 2012.

Editor's Note | Constraints Management | Five-Step Process
Improving Production at Little Cost | Buffer Management | Critical Chain Project Management
Critical Path Method vs. Critical Chain Project Management
Critical Chain Rules of Engagement

Buffer Management

The return on investment with the Theory of Constraints is powerful. It is usually straightforward to get a 50% increase in throughput very quickly. Repeat the Five Focusing Steps for further improvements. The most important changes are in the way the system is managed. Pay attention to the constraint. If any other part of the system struggles, the Buffer of work will be affected, indicating management attention may be needed. Moderate fluctuations in the size of the Buffer are normal responses to system variation while the constraint continues working.

Theory of Constraints is simple. TOC does not aim for perfection. Good enough is perfect for now, until the next simple improvement. Just focus on the constraint. TOC is so simple that many people dismiss it.

Typical Results

The following table shows examples of some typical results achieved by applying Theory of Constraints as described earlier:



Measurable results



Mean Reduction 69%


Mean Reduction 66%


Mean Improvement 60%, to 95+%

Inventory Levels

Mean Reduction 50%

Lead-Time and Inventory Reduction

Correlation 0.77


Mean Increase 68% (outlier exclusive)

Combined Financial Variable

Mean Increase 82%

Intangible benefits


Quality improves


Fixed costs are very slow to increase


Profits increase dramatically


Quality of life for employees improves


Overtime decreases


Demand on management attention is reduced


Improving Production at Little Cost  Improving Production at Little Cost

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