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Going lean has been the goal of most companies in the last few years because lean has proven to be an effective model for most demanding industries like software development, manufacturing, construction, and many others.
In today's cut-throat competition where improved quality, shorter lead times, increased profit, reduced cost, enhanced productivity and better customer service are used to measure a company’s worth, lean is the methodology to follow. Lean manufacturing is simple to understand and quickly makes an impact when implemented properly.
1) Abolishing Waste
Lean principles revolve around the idea of detecting waste and minimizing them. It uses the acronym "DOWNTIME" which reveals the 8 types of waste Lean Manufactures target:
• Defects are arguably the most costly type of waste, especially if it reaches the customer.
• Overproduction is making more products than ordered. It can cause raw material shortage and wastage of labor hours.
• Waiting is when the line shutdown occurs while equipment repair or waiting for parts.
• Not using people’s talents is when manufacturers fail to use their employee’s talents properly, holding back the innovation at the organization.
• Transportation is what drives the manufacturing process, from material delivery to supply chain and specific production areas.
• Inventory comprises of raw material, finished goods, sub-assembly, office supplies and Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO). Outdated inventory can take up valuable space.
• Motion means reaching, bending, walking and lifting. Even sharing tools between workstations can waste a lot of time while retrieving it.
• Excess processing is spending time on product features that don't affect the functionality.
2) Constant Improvement
Lean manufacturing is not a one-time job, nor is it ever finished. Thus, promoting a culture of continuous improvement instills Lean thinking throughout your organization. Constant Improvement can happen daily. Continuous improvement can also be attained through kaizen, a Japanese term translated to "Change for the better". Kaizen helps unearth problematic process and their possible solutions.
Kaizen events can range from something as simple as using a separate cart to store non-standard tools to rearranging a work cell to improve the flow of the entire production line and enhance the return on lean investment.
Using Lean Manufacturing 5S organizational methodology and the continuous improvement process, the manufacturer dictates process efficiency. Starting from bottom-up, building value streams based on assembly complexity and volume. Then, dividing those value streams into work cells and within those work cells, work instructions and every tool is identically placed in order to implement a smooth workflow. The Lean Manufacturing 5S organizational methodology:
• Set in Order
Practicing 5S makes a workplace safety and safety of employees is critical. Safety should not be sacrificed to go lean. If the unfortunate happens and an employee gets hurt, the time lost during injury could partially defeat the whole purpose of going lean.
5) Track Metrics
Measuring is important to improve. If you don't measure then you don't improve. If there is an inefficient process within the facility then track its metrics, determine where you stand and set goals for betterment. Tracking can better the odds of preventing future financial and physical damage.
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