What is Lean Manufacturing and How Can Companies Achieve It?

By streamlining the process and generating value for the customer, lean manufacturing is a production system or approach that seeks to decrease waste and boost efficiency and productivity.

Since the idea of establishing an integrated process to more effectively manage equipment, materials, and its staff throughout the production cycle was developed, manufacturing has seen significant transformation.

Over time, manufacturing organisations have been able to offer more dependable, higher-quality products faster and for less money by employing this strategy.

The lean production system’s philosophy and best practises are still in place today; however, the plant floor execution is getting a dramatic makeover.

Simply put, this is due to the fact that the entire manufacturing dynamic has changed to include new technology, new global competition, new government regulations, and a hyper-connected world of intelligent devices and social networks that enable seamless communication between businesses and their customers.

As the world evolved, lean manufacturing processes must also adjust and alter in order to stay nimble.

What challenges are lean manufacturers facing?

Implementing lean manufacturing practises into your company can increase profitability by decreasing operational waste. Unfortunately, there are obstacles that pose challenges that must be resolved in order to accomplish this goal.

Time: Every manufacturing process tightening requires time. It is essential to get everyone on board and working together as you commit to streamlining your process. The actual time needed is highly influenced by the number of issues a business is dealing with. With the necessary resources, the appropriate processes, the established targets, suitable training, and collaboration between all departments, the amount of time can be cut down.

Resources: A business cannot produce a product and lean manufacturing cannot be implemented without the necessary supplies or resources. These resources can include funding, IT and software systems, and training to recognise and accept process improvement. With regards to the software systems, there are a variety available, each with a specific function. It’s crucial to conduct in-depth study on various systems before selecting the one that best suits your requirements.

Targets: Focusing on the wrong targets results in time loss far too frequently. To pinpoint each specific area that is slowing down development, businesses must be able to view the complete production process from the receipt of the first order to the delivery of the finished product.

Resistance: A significant roadblock to advancement is a lack of understanding of what Lean manufacturing is and how the goal is attained. The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate waste in every aspect of production, including the flow of materials, product quality, on-time delivery, and cost. Every part of manufacturing can be enhanced, from just-in-time systems to decrease inventory to the effective use of energy. Employees cannot be expected to produce more products at the necessary quality level while receiving insufficient instruction. Investment in training has a significant impact on productivity and workload reduction to lower resistance.

Follow through: You must regularly assess the success of a lean manufacturing programme once your business starts to see the effects. If nobody is watching, you’ll slide back into old patterns. Lean manufacturing is a continuous process. It aims to eliminate waste and improve continuously, but constant improvement is the key.

How to achieve lean manufacturing

1. Establish financial performance metrics and lean manufacturing goals that can be tracked from the shop floor to the top floor

To quantify the three most important areas in need of lean process improvement, manufacturers frequently use a pilot-based method. Others will overhaul the production process in its entirety all at once. The benefit of using pilots is the ability to precisely measure and isolate only the most important aspects over time.

2. Establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each lean goal that offer information on lean performance from the shop floor to the top level

Having visibility from the shop floor to the top level is essential for controlling activities on the shop floor to meet financial targets. Choose a variety of indicators and KPIs that offer comprehensive shop floor performance that can be quantified financially.

3. Provide every employee with the chance to own the goals by developing an open, active change management programme that allows everyone to succeed

The success criteria for each employee are set forth in the revolutionary lean manufacturing strategies that transform industrial operations. They are open enough to demonstrate how each person’s contributions and efforts matter.

4. Employ value-stream mapping to identify the underlying causes of why regions are underperforming

A process diagram known as a value stream map can be used to identify weaknesses and gaps in manufacturing processes. It’s a useful tool for identifying the underlying causes of production performance and product quality issues.

5. To fully identify regions of waste, apply value-stream mapping to job instructions, tool movement, and tool calibration in problematic locations

6. Establish takt time goals for each manufacturing process, down to the process and workflow level, and define the future state value stream maps for each

7. Using the insights gained from value stream mapping and takt time analysis, redesign workflows on the shop floor to save time and reduce errors

8. Put in place a visual control system that monitors advancements in lean manufacturing that have improved factory floor performance and provides real-time updates on important metrics and KPIs

Customer and lean manufacturing metrics and KPIs are ingrained into the cultures of the highest-performing plants and production facilities. Focusing a plant on what matters most can be accomplished by making an investment in a visual control system that monitors plant floor performance.

Additionally, these real-time updates offer previously unobtainable information on every facet of lean manufacturing performance.

9. Put in place continuing plant-floor waste reduction initiatives with a particular emphasis on minimising motion, eliminating superfluous processing, and minimising quality flaws

The quickest way to improve as a manufacturer is to focus on the main waste sources. After completing value stream mapping, many manufacturers discover that lowering motion, eliminating superfluous processing, and decreasing quality defects are the fastest wins.

10. Develop lean strategies to better manage production flows, inventory levels, order fulfilment, and demand forecasts. These strategies should be based on the insights received from value stream mapping and lean plant-floor improvements

An effective lean manufacturing plan will then set goals and track progress in these areas and others.

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