About Lean Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing is a production method aimed primarily at reducing times within the production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. It is closely related to another concept called just-in-time manufacturing (JIT manufacturing in short). Just-in-time manufacturing tries to match production to demand by only supplying goods which have been ordered and focuses on efficiency, productivity (with a commitment to continuous improvement) and reduction of “wastes” for the producer and supplier of goods. Lean manufacturing adopts the just-in-time approach and additionally focuses on reducing cycle, flow and throughput times by further eliminating activities which do not add any value for the customer. Lean manufacturing also involves people who work outside of the manufacturing process, such as in marketing and customer service.
Lean as a philosophy (lean thinking)
The other way to avoid market risk and control the supply efficiently is to cut down in stock. P&G has completed their goal to co-operate with Walmart and other wholesales companies by building the response system of stocks directly to the suppliers companies.
- Housekeeping: physical organization and discipline.
- Make it right the first time: elimination of defects.
- Setup reduction: flexible changeover approaches.
- Lot sizes of one: the ultimate lot size and flexibility.
- Uniform plant load: leveling as a control mechanism.
- Balanced flow: organizing flow scheduling throughput.
- Skill diversification: multi-functional workers.
- Control by visibility: communication media for activity.
- Preventive maintenance: flawless running, no defects.
- Fitness for use: producibility, design for process.
- Compact plant layout: product-oriented design.
- Streamlining movements: smoothing materials handling.
- Supplier networks: extensions of the factory.
- Worker involvement: small group improvement activities.
- Cellular manufacturing: production methods for flow.
- Pull system: signal [kanban] replenishment/resupply systems.
Lean Manufacturing Tools & Techniques, Principles
The Five Lean Principles
To better understand the first principle of defining customer value, it is important to understand what value is. Value is what the customer is willing to pay for. It is paramount to discover the actual or latent needs of the customer. Sometimes customers may not know what they want or are unable to articulate it. This is especially common when it comes to novel products or technologies. There are many techniques such as interviews, surveys, demographic information, and web analytics that can help you decipher and discover what customers find valuable. By using these qualitative and quantitative techniques you can uncover what customers want, how they want the product or service to be delivered, and the price that they afford.
Map the Value Stream
The second Lean principle is identifying and mapping the value stream. In this step, the goal is to use the customer’s value as a reference point and identify all the activities that contribute to these values. Activities that do not add value to the end customer are considered waste. The waste can be broken into two categories: non-valued added but necessary and non-value & unnecessary. The later is pure waste and should be eliminated while the former should be reduced as much as possible. By reducing and eliminating unnecessary processes or steps, you can ensure that customers are getting exactly what they want while at the same time reducing the cost of producing that product or service.
After removing the wastes from the value stream, the following action is to ensure that the flow of the remaining steps run smoothly without interruptions or delays. Some strategies for ensuring that value-adding activities flow smoothly include: breaking down steps, reconfiguring the production steps, leveling out the workload, creating cross-functional departments, and training employees to be multi-skilled and adaptive.
Inventory is considered one of the biggest wastes in any production system. The goal of a pull-based system is to limit inventory and work in process (WIP) items while ensuring that the requisite materials and information are available for a smooth flow of work. In other words, a pull-based system allows for Just-in-time delivery and manufacturing where products are created at the time that they are needed and in just the quantities needed. Pull-based systems are always created from the needs of the end customers. By following the value stream and working backwards through the production system, you can ensure that the products produced will be able to satisfy the needs of customers.
Wastes are prevented through the achievement of the first four steps: 1) identifying value, 2) mapping value stream, 3) creating flow, and 4) adopting a pull system. However, the fifth step of pursuing perfection is the most important among them all. It makes Lean thinking and continuous process improvement a part of the organizational culture. Every employee should strive towards perfection while delivering products based on the customer needs. The company should be a learning organization and always find ways to get a little better each and every day.
Benefits of Lean Manufacturing
The importance of Lean Manufacturing in one company will differ from that of other companies. It will depend on where you start and what you put into it. But with the right level of commitment and planning, you will start to see some of these benefits of lean production in a short period of time.
Improving quality. As quality issues arise, problem solving techniques are used to root cause the problem. From there, mistake proofing is put in place to strengthen the process and prevent recurrence. As a result, the quality of your product will benefit from lean manufacturing techniques.
Improved Visual Management
Another benefit of lean manufacturing is management by sight. If done correctly, your plant will be set up so you can evaluate an entire area with a visual scan. Any abnormalities will stand out and be easy to identify as a problem. The benefits of lean management leads to a greater understanding of daily issues and areas that need to improve.
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