The Five Principles of Lean Manufacturing

All companies seek ways to improve their businesses. One of the most common goals of trumping the competition is cutting expenses, which can be best achieved through lean manufacturing strategies.

But before anything, let us first define what lean manufacturing is. Lean manufacturing is a management concept that supports the 'no waste' policy. These 'wastes' refer to the seven most common reasons for underproductivity and delay identified by companies all over the world.

They are inventory, over production, waiting time, transportation, processing, scrap and defects and motion. According to studies, most firms waste between 70% and 90% of the resources available to them. These happen when there are huge stockpiles of overruns, or when it takes ten activity levels to achieve something that can be done equally as good as when completed in three steps. The list can go on, but you get the picture.

The tricky part about implementing lean manufacturing principles is that most of the wastes identified are invisible, making their reduction and eventual eradication challenging. But with careful planning, lean manufacturing should be a walk in the park for your company

There are five core disciplines in lean manufacturing. Not all firms require their implementation, but at least one of which is necessary for the betterment, or 'leaning', of an organization.

1) team development

2) cellular manufacturing

3) six sigma and total quality management

4) rapid setup

5) pull scheduling

To complement the above, the following five lean manufacturing principles are what serve as guidelines for firms that want to maximize value out of their organization.

Out With Waste

Lean manufacturing principles focus on eliminating waste from the company. This means taking out unnecessary departments or redundant positions, or eradicating processes that just cause delay.

If it means terminating jobs, then do so. Lean manufacturing espouses that all resources, land, persons and capital, are used in the best and most efficient way they can be used.

Do It Right The First Time

Trial and error methods are simply a waste of resources and time. If enough effort is placed in carefully planning a certain manufacturing process, then there wouldn't be the need to start all over again, or settle with mediocre situations.

Always Seek The Best

Every company should always reach for the highest value that can be achieved. All the effort will be futile and major waste if this isn't done so.

Be Flexible

Lean manufacturing principles do not support stiff and linear thinking. If something needs to be improved and changed along the way, then do so at once, instead of contending with the original plan that has been eventually found to be resource and time-wasteful along the way.

Don't Push, Pull

Consumers should be given the freedom to decide what they want. As a manufacturer, you should impose trends or products to your clients. Rather, you should always be on the lookout for what will make your consumers happy.

Of course, adopting lean manufacturing principles does not always mean that your company is saved. It still takes careful planning, method-mapping and a lot of discipline to succeed. If your company is not wary of the consequences of strategies that are haphazardly implemented, then these lean manufacturing principles will be in vain -- and total waste.