What is Lean Manufacturing?

What is lean manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing involves doing more with less. This is the process of eliminating or reducing waste that does not add value to the end product. Waste can occur during customer service, design, product manufacturing and distribution. It is all about cutting the cost of producing high-quality products before they go to market.

Adopting lean manufacturing cuts costs without compromising product quality. It works by finding efficiencies and better ways to complete the same process stream. Lean manufacturers make small sustainable changes for continuous improvements to avoid disrupting output and staff. Consult staff, even work with them to identify how their area can operate with more efficiency.

Simplify and organise the workplace

Simplify and organise your workplace to identify waste. It helps your workers and equipment to respond to changing needs. Waste costs you so you pass those costs onto your customers. In such a competitive world, keeping costs down means passing on savings to customers. People have limited resources. They will go elsewhere for the same quality product when they can get it cheaper.

Look for customer value

When looking for efficiencies look at what your customers value. Consider what meets their needs and what they are willing to pay for. Customers want value for money. They should not have to pay more for mistakes or problems in production. Or for other wastage in your manufacturing processes. There are eight main areas you can find efficiencies:

  1. holding too much inventory

  2. overprocessing products

  3. too much movement of machinery or people

  4. unnecessary transport of materials and products

  5. workforce or equipment downtime

  6. producing too much product

  7. defects that cost time and money to correct

  8. using your workforce efficiently.

Lean manufacturing principles

Lean manufacturing has five core principles. These are customer value, the value stream, flow, establishing a pull system and perfection.

Customer value

The manufacturer creates the value, but customers define value by how much they are willing to pay for a product. You need to understand the value customers put on the products you produce. When you know this, you can reduce waste and costs from the manufacturing process. This allows you to determine the best price for the customer so your company still makes a good profit.

Value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is the process of analysing and recording material and information flow for each product to identify improvement. The value stream is the entire lifestyle of a product from the raw materials to distribution including the supply chain. Eliminate anything that does not add value.

Create production flow

During this phase look for ways to improve the production flow from the time of receiving an order to delivery. Good lean manufacturing processes rely on eliminating interruptions to the production process. Ensure you have good processes to keep production flow moving without interruption.

Introduce a pull system

Introduce a pull system so you only produce new products when you receive orders. Most manufacturers use push systems which rely on manufacturing resource planning to forecast material needs. This is often inaccurate. It results in too much inventory, schedules that do not flow and unsatisfactory customer service.

Introducing a pull system gives you flexibility. You do not buy or make anything until you have orders for the products. Use a good software solution like MORE-MX to help run the entire pull production process with accuracy.

Strive for perfection

Continually strive for perfection by getting to the cause of quality issues. This helps reduce and eliminate waste across the entire production process.

For successful implementation of lean manufacturing make continuous small changes. This allows the system to work more efficiently without major disruptions to production or staff.

When you have the right software, it simplifies the pull system and implementing the lean manufacturing process. Talk to us now to find out how.