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If inventories are positioned between process stages, those inventories decouple the flow of materials being received at a work station from an up-stream process. This allows the two process stages to be scheduled somewhat independently of one another. This decoupling process allows for more effective and efficient scheduling of each process stage. While the ideal plant would like to achieve a continous flow of material through the entire process train, this synchronization is often difficult to achieve. Where synchronization is not possible, it becomes advisable to decouple process stages.

In some production environments, equipment utilization can be improved by accumulating an intermediate product in inventory to satisfy peak demand requirements from a downstream unit. If process stage A feeds process stage B then process stage A must have sufficient capacity to meet the peak requirements from process stage B. If a decoupling inventory is positioned between ...