Eliminate Waste in Production Through Lean Manufacturing
// January 27, 2015 //
In order to stay competitive, manufacturers in all market types need to be in a state of continuous improvement. With changes in technology happening at such a rapid rate, manufacturers that do not embrace change will only see their competitors erode their market share. Lean Manufacturing is a customer-focused, continuous-improvement system used to increase the total value added to the product being produced. Lean Manufacturing is able to do this through the removal of the wastes associated with manufacturing processes. A goal should be to eliminate wastes to not only stay ahead of the competition, but to save on manufacturing production costs. There are many different elements that can affect product cost such as quality, lead time, delivery, process flow, labor, and inventory that are all addressed through the Lean Manufacturing technique.
What is considered waste?
Waste is typically thought of as garbage or something that is tossed, however when it comes to manufacturing, waste is classified as anything the customer isn’t willing to pay for. Wastes are found in seven different areas: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over-production, and defects. Understanding and seeing the wastes is one of the first steps towards setting up a continuous improvement program because you cannot improve something that you do not understand or see.
Lean manufacturing is the systematic approach of identifying and removing non-value-added activities, essentially waste removal, through continuous improvement efforts. This is completed through the use of Kaizens that specifically define the part or process where waste is present. The Kaizens will include employees both familiar with the process, as well as disciplines that may not be directly affected, to maximize out of the box thinking, problem solving and create team building. Lean manufacturing efforts are not only found in manufacturing, they are used in hospitals, restaurants, transportation systems, and even some government agencies.
No matter the method you use to achieve organizational continuous improvements, people are the key to success. Employee involvement is required throughout the process. Lean manufacturing is an organizational discipline that focuses on reducing wastes that will minimize lead times, inventories, setup times and costs, while at the same time increasing the use of resources, generating larger profits.
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