We can trace the origins of lean manufacturing back to the earlier1950s by a product engineer called Taiichi Ohno. This entrepreneur emphasized the importance of eliminating waste during the manufacturing process while maximizing productivity and upholding high standards of customer satisfaction. They also highlighted the importance of constant improvement and striving to be better than we were the day or the year before.
This article will provide a quick guide to lean manufacturing.
Table of Contents
Industry experts have been analyzing the founding ideas and values around lean manufacturing. Here is a brief summary of their findings and what they consider core principles of lean manufacturing.
Removal of waste and redundancies
One of the cornerstones of lean manufacturing is removing any processes that generate unnecessary waste and don’t add any value to the final product you present to your customers.
Value from the client’s POV
At the end of the day, the value you provide should be directed to your customers. Therefore, lean manufacturing enhances each step of the process with the customer in mind.
Comprehensive understanding of your processes
You cannot have a smooth flow if you don’t understand how your processes work in the first place. The value stream is a key element in lean manufacturing and characterizes a well-executed system.
The demand or pull-based system ensures the product moves through the various steps only when there is a demand in the market.
Empowerment of shop floor employees
Each employee should handle tasks and responsibilities that match their skill sets. Lean manufacturing also avoids overloading employees.
Types of waste
Let’s discuss the types of waste in lean manufacturing.
- Muri: It comes about when you overburden your employees or allocate resources poorly.
- Muda: This waste results from work that doesn’t add value to the final product and the company in general.
- Mura: This type of waste occurs due to fluctuations in demand.
The impact of technology
Gone are the days when employees had to do everything pertaining to production. Technological advancements have enabled employees to be more productive by tackling challenging tasks that require lots of manual labor. You could also use advanced software like NX Cam software to design a digital prototype of the finished product and make necessary changes to prevent you from wasting raw materials during the trial and error stage.
The 5s of lean manufacturing
Here is a list of the 5s techniques you could use to manage your manufacturing plant.
It would be wise to prevent unnecessary items from entering the work environment. Every piece of equipment that is placed in the work area should serve a specific purpose and add value to the final product.
You should ensure the work area is carefully planned to ensure maximum productivity. For instance, you could remove any furniture that takes up too much space and prevents your employees from moving around freely.
Encourage your employees to keep the area neat. Ensure they return the equipment back to the respective racks after they are done using them and avoid leaving their PPEs lying around during breaks.
Ensure your expectations are clear and your employees understand the tasks you want them to do. It would help to schedule regular meetings where you delegate tasks and explain their responsibilities. We also urge you to encourage them to ask questions where they need further clarification.
Lastly, it would help to stay committed to being orderly on the work premise and upholding high hygiene standards. If your employees notice you are lax about keeping the work premise neat, they will disregard the rules. Before you know it, your manufacturing plant will be in a chaotic state.
Lean manufacturing enhances time management, allows you to improve on past mistakes, reduces waste, and, most importantly, increases revenue. You are also in a better position to improve relationships with your clients and see things from their points of view.