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Bottlenecks: Theory of Constraints Essay

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” (Goldratt, 1984). Goldratt’s theory means organizations and processes are vulnerable because the weakest part or person can damage, break, or constrain them while affecting the outcome. In operations management, the solution is to pull materials through the system rather than push them into the system. By using the drum-buffer-rope methodology, components in a system can be identified helping to identify constraints and eventually break the constraint or find a solution. Bottlenecks: Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints helps identify bottlenecks in the process of fixing a flashlight and how to fix or break the constraints.


Named for its three components, drum-buffer-rope is a manufacturing mythology execution. The physical constraint of the plant is the drum. The drum could be a machine or work center and limits the whole system to produce more. The drums are protected by buffers which always keep work flowing to it. Buffers are measured in units of time rather than the quantity produced. Buffers are usually placed at the constraint, shipping, and synchronization points. The work release mechanism for the plant is represented by rope. Orders are released before they are due at a certain buffer time. If the buffer is one week, the order is released one week before it is due at the constraint. The drum-buffer-rope mythology will be very useful to solve the problems in process of manufacturing and selling a flashlight.

Constraints and Solutions

According to “Theory of Constraints” (2013), “TOC is systemic and strives to identify constraints to system success and to effect the changes necessary to remove them” (Theory of Constraints). The drum would be the equipment used to manufacture the flashlights or even the employees that are putting them together. Continuously providing work to the system, the buffer could be a computer helping the employee keep track of what they are doing and helping to process their work.

The rope represents the time flashlights are placed in stores ahead of time to help offset the time lost by the constraint. If an employee is at their limit of production, an additional employee could be hired to increase production. A machine could even be implemented into the process at the bottleneck to assist the employee or the employee could help the machine if it was the constraint. If the buffer is causing a bottleneck, its rate should be decreased. Placing orders in stores before they are to be put on the shelves could help offset the time it takes for merchandising and stocking the items.


Bottlenecks are inevitable in processes and organizations. A company needs to locate the bottlenecks in their process and break the constraint before it breaks or shuts the system down. Companies are only as strong as their weakest links and should solve the issues right away. Using Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints helps to identify and come up with a solution for the constraint. The drum-buffer-rope methodology also helps to identify constraints and is a useful execution to making a process more efficient.

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