Push vs. Pull Production Systems

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  • 0:00 Push or Pull?
  • 0:57 What Is a Push…
  • 2:13 What Is a Pull…
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Virtually every product manufactured on the face of the planet can be described as having been made by either the push or pull production system. But, what are those? In this lesson, we take a look at both of them.

Push or Pull?

So you've just received your dream job - director of supply chain operations for a widget factory. If you do well in this job, there could be some major promotions on the horizon. The owner has plans of expanding to become the world's preeminent manufacturer of widget-lifestyle related products, but first there are some problems in the supply chain that need to be sorted out.

It seems your predecessor honestly could not have run things more haphazardly: too much of some raw materials, too little of others, and orders to customers that are still unfulfilled. Frustrated, you go to the internet in hopes of finding a better solution. In doing so, you keep finding two types of production systems being mentioned: push and pull. Intrigued, you read more, thinking that this could be the answer to your problems.

What Is a Push Production System?

A push production system starts with the very beginning of the supply chain. In this system, a company pushes products from the raw material stage to the final stage. In short, the company thinks that there will be enough demand for the final product to justify paying it all forward now. This system works well in cases where the company can predict that there will be significant demand, as well as in cases where the customer will want the product in that very moment.

If you can go to the store and purchase something, chances are it was a result of the push production system. Practically all consumer goods are made this way. After all, you don't have the time for someone to manufacture a toy for your little brother's birthday - you need it right then! Airlines and trains are another example of a push production system. They know that the seats on board will fill up, so they schedule them months in advance.

Back to the widget factory. You know that there is a demand for your widgets. Therefore, a push production system would actually make a great deal of sense for your business. You tell your subordinates to make sure that there are always plenty of raw materials available for the manufacture of the widgets your company offers.

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