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Lean manufacturing or “going lean,” refers to a series of methods, philosophies and tools to minimize waste in your business and maximize production. Read about different ways your company can go lean.
Lean manufacturing, or simply “lean,” is a systematic method designed to minimize waste in a manufacturing system while productivity remains constant. Originating in Japan in the Toyota Production System (TPS), lean manufacturing strives to minimize waste within a manufacturing operation, with the idea being to clearly portray what adds value by removing what doesn’t. As your company begins to think about lean manufacturing it’s important to keep in mind the process of going lean takes time – like turning a cruise ship around.
There are several different lean techniques, allowing each organization to fit lean manufacturing techniques into its own distinct production process. We’re going to discuss the eight types of waste lean manufacturing seeks to eliminate and five common lean principals, tools and techniques manufacturers around the world have implemented into their manufacturing processes.
As we mentioned earlier, going lean starts with eliminating waste to focus on what adds value to your process, which leads to adding value for your customers. It’s important to know the types of waste and how they affect your business. There are eight types of waste:
Now that we‘re aware of the types of waste we want to minimize, let’s look at five common lean manufacturing tools and techniques to help you mitigate waste and maximize production.
Kaizen: The Japanese term “Kaizen” translates to “change for the better.” The idea behind Kaizen is continuous improvement. It makes teams work together proactively and take responsibility for their areas within the company. Together, employees make incremental improvements in the manufacturing process. With kaizen, there is always room for improvement, and workers should constantly look to improve the workplace. This philosophy also emphasizes that each individual's ideas are important and that all employees should be involved in the process to better the company. An organization that practices kaizen welcomes and never criticizes suggestions for improvement at all levels. This helps to create an environment of mutual respect and open communication.
|How Kaizen benefits you
Implementing Kaizen improves your productivity, effectiveness, safety and lessens waste
|Less waste||Inventory and employee’s skills are used more efficiently|
|Employees have a direct impact on how things are done which
gives them more of a stake in the company,
leading to a commitment to do a good job
|Improved retention||Happy and engaged employees are more likely to stay put|
|Customer satisfaction||Engaged employees means improved product quality and fewer defects|
5s System: The 5S system is an organizational method stemming from five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. These words translate to organize, tidiness, clean, standardize and sustain. They represent a five-step process meant to reduce waste and increase productivity and efficiency.
|How the 5s System benefits you
The 5s’ help you minimize multiple areas of waste
|Reduces cost through
less storage space
|Getting rid of unused materials, tools and equipment, and organizing frees up a lot of space.
This kind of cost savings hits on not only storage rental costs but heating and cooling,
cleaning and the maintenance of the space
|Cleanliness||Cleanliness translates into improved maintenance and less downtime.
If a machine is clean, you’ll be able to spot defects and issues like oil leaks.
This lets you perform preventative maintenance to prevent downtime
|Safety||Cleanliness directly relates to improved safety.
It removes clutter which can reveal electrical, chemical or mechanical hazards.
Organizing tools and equipment in areas close
to where they’re needed minimizes movement, reducing injury
Kanban: Kanban helps eliminate inventory and overproduction waste by implementing a method for regulating the flow of goods inside and outside the factory. It translates to “billboard” or “visual signal” and relies on visual signals to help employees control inventory. A Kanban card can be placed in a visible area to signal when inventory needs to be replenished. With this process, products are assembled only when there is demand from the consumer, allowing companies to reduce inventory and waste. The Kanban method is highly responsive to customers because products can be manufactured by responding to customer needs instead of trying to predict their future needs.
A basic form of Kanban is having three columns: “To Do,” “Doing,” “Done.” Once you’ve begun a project or the first step in a process, move a colored sticky note with your name on it to the “Doing” column, so everyone knows where you’re at in the process. Columns can be labeled to match your particular project and there can be as many columns as you need.
|How Kanban benefits you
Kanban is a great way to manage work processes and maximize time and efficiency
|Flexibility||With the Kanban technique, priorities are always being reassessed based on the most recent information|
|Continuous delivery||Kanban helps you deliver exactly what your customers want by continuously delivering smaller batches of product.
This lets your team constantly update processes based on new business requirements
|Waste reduction||Kanban improves your productivity and efficiency, reducing waste like over-production,
unnecessary motion, defects and waiting
Heijunka: Heijunka is the Japanese word for “leveling.” Level scheduling is a type of production that purposely manufactures products in smaller batches by sequencing varying products in the same process.
For example, let’s say you produce sunglasses and you get an order for 500 of the same style of sunglasses each week. The orders come in as 200 orders on Monday, 50 on Tuesday, 100 on Wednesday, 100 on Thursday and 50 on Friday. Rather than trying to meet that order in sequential order, you could use Heijunka and level the demand by making an inventory of 100 sunglasses close to shipping for Monday’s order. Make sure 100 sunglasses are in inventory every Monday and the rest of the week, produce 100 sunglasses each day (a level amount).
Implementing Heijunka requires you to set the pace of your manufacturing according to what’s known as Takt time. Takt time is the rate at which your customer makes a purchase or the time it takes to finish a product to meet customer demands. In other words, you’re matching your production rates to meet your customer’s demands, creating a level process.
|How Heijunka benefits you
Heijunka brings three major benefits to your manufacturing facility
|Predictability||Leveling your production schedule enables predictability when it comes to producing goods|
|Flexibility||Leveling your production schedule reduces your changeover time|
|Stability||Leveling your production schedule lets you balance the use of labor and machines and predict demand|
Just in Time (JIT): Just in Time is a management philosophy involving only producing a product when the customer wants it, in the amount the customer requested it and sent to where they want it without it being hung up in inventory. In other words, instead of making and stockpiling products in anticipation of what your customers might want, you make what customers order when they order it. This lets you allocate your resources (employees, machines, etc.) to only work on things you’ll be paid for. Just in Time helps improve inventory costs, reduce space, reduce lead time, increase productivity and more.
What’s required for Just in Time?
Just in Time lean manufacturing plays off of many other lean tools and techniques. Here’s what you’ll need to implement the Just in Time philosophy.
Using lean manufacturing principals, techniques and philosophies to go lean gives you a competitive advantage by eliminating the eight types of waste discussed earlier. Let’s take a look at some real-world examples of how going lean gave companies the upper hand.
Nearly 60 percent of production activities in manufacturing operations around the world are waste, according to Vorne Lean Production. When it comes down to it, almost every company has room for improvement when it comes to minimizing waste, making high-quality products and lowering their overall production cost. If you decide to go lean, remember it takes time to implement the correct methods, tools and philosophies we’ve discussed. Once you’re team(s) learn these techniques, they’ll be able to reduce one or more of the eight types of waste just by doing their job.