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A constraint is a limitation of possibilities.
Theory of constraints
To take a simple example: a chain has 5 links, each link capable of holding a maximum weight of 5, 7, 4, 8 and 6 tonnes respectively. The maximum weight the chain can hold is clearly 4 tonnes – the limit imposed by the weakest link. In this case, all 5 links have limits to their strength, but the 3rd link is the constraint because it is the greatest restriction on the system.
- at least one constraint, otherwise its performance would be infinite
- very few constraints, otherwise it would be unstable and cease to exist
The concept of constraint is the basis for Goldratt's process of focused improvement.
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