Lean manufacturing, also known as lean, is a systematic work method created to minimize wasted work without losing productivity. This business method began in the manufacturing world but can also be implemented in nonmanufacturing processes such as administrative. Making a few changes to make your business model more lean has great potential to bring success to your company.
Strategies Behind Lean Manufacturing
To accomplish lean manufacturing, the company must determine what adds value and what doesn’t. Value is defined as anything that customers are willing to pay for. If an activity isn’t adding value, it should be considered waste.
Types Of Waste
In general, most people know what waste is. But it is easy to overlook practices that have no value. Toyota’s chief engineer Taiichi Ohno determined 7 wastes that need to be monitored. They are:/p>
- Transportation: Cut down on as much transportation as possible. Moving products around for no reason costs time and labor.
- Inventory: Every piece of inventory costs you money. Products are only valuable until they are sold.
- Motion: Unnecessary motions by people or machine should be cut down to reduce work. For example, keeping commonly used items at waist level rather than on the floor. Even the smallest extra movements create unnecessary damage on machines and stress on employees.
- Waiting:Waiting disrupts flow which is one of the main goals of lean manufacturing.
- Overproduction:Producing too many products, too soon is one of the biggest wastes. Ideally, your company should only produce what is required by the customer.
- Over Processing:Processes that don’t speed up production are unnecessary. In lean manufacturing
- Defects:Defects are the most obvious types of waste and possibly the most costly. Every defective item requires replacement or redesign which costs materials and time.
- Misuse Of Talent:This waste is not so easily recognized. Failing to make use of the skills of your employees might result in hiring unnecessary staff, adding to your costs.
The strategy behind lean manufacturing systems differ between businesses. For example, a manufacturing company applying lean principles might result in a machine that can detect defects and stop production.
How To Begin Lean Manufacturing
The first step to achieving lean manufacturing is to plan accurately. Ask yourself, what is slowing my business down? What area do I want need to focus on? Some common goals are:
- Improve quality:The quality of your products should accurately reflect your company’s values. Understanding your customer is crucial to creating products that they desire.
- Eliminate waste: Waste is in any activity that consumes resources, time or even space, but doesn’t add any value to the service or product in return.
- Reduce time: Cutting down on the time it takes to complete an activity is one of the best ways to eliminate waste and lower costs.
- Reduce total costs: In order to minimize costs, your company must only produce enough for customer demand.
Interested in learning more about the basics of lean manufacturing or operations management in general? Brithe Publishing published two great books on operations management. Check out Agile Manufacturing: Lean Processes That Improve Business Transactions and How The Aviation Industry Shaped American Manufacturing. Find the books for a great deal here.