Lean Manufacturing Explained

Lean Manufacturing Explained

There are various management approaches that focus on boosting and speeding up a company's operational viability and sales.

It is for this reason that companies all over the world are seeking unique strategies to improve their corporate environments and well-being, some of which have been so successful internally that other firms have taken to adopting the same or similar programs in their own realms.

One of such is the much talked-about lean manufacturing approach.

Lean manufacturing explained

What lean manufacturing basically aims to achieve is enabling corporations to raise their profitability and competitive edge. It seeks to introduce and adopt management and production improvements via the identification and elimination of behaviors and practices deemed unproductive and wasteful.

Lean manufacturing has been found to be right for all kinds of organizations and business set-ups, whether in the trading, service, manufacturing sectors, or any other types of industries around. It can even work in a small business setting that involves just a number of housewives with a home-based cookie baking venture.

Getting the right things done at the right time is what lean manufacturing is focused on. Aside from that is getting tasks completed at the right place and at the right quantity, while also lowering activities that are considered wasteful and time-consuming and boosting boosting worker productivity and flexibility. This concept is believed to have been espoused by mogul Henry Ford and further developed by the Japanese car maker, Toyota.

All about waste

It will not take rocket science to figure out that there are certain activities in business that lead to a waste of energy, time and resources. The philosophy that is lean manufacturing pays particular attention to the reduction and/or elimination of seven major wastes commonly identified by international companies.

Eradicating these said seven wastes promises to boost production quality, turnaround times and, eventually, lower expenses. The seven wastes include:

1. inventory

2. scraps and defects

3. over-production

4. motion

5. over-processing

6. waiting

7. transportation

Lean manufacturing places a prime on time. That's why this strategy is bent on improving work efficiency. Transportation, for instance, is an important part of production because through it goods and services and delivered to and from producers and consumers. What lean manufacturing does to address the waste that is transportation is seek maximum ways to lessen the travel time and equipment costs, particularly at a time of rising oil and energy rates.

Constant motion or movements must be kept to a minimum, therefore, not just to save on gas but also to save on energy. Unproductive employee hours and procrastination are some of the top things lean manufacturing aims to scrap from the list of tasks.

Once motion is significantly reduced to appropriate levels, then the waiting time will also be significantly lowered or maybe eliminated. Turnaround times become faster and more output will be delivered.

In addition, lean manufacturing also aims to eliminate the needs for constant repairs, which takes up precious time. That's why it is important for this strategy to keep all nuts and bolts in place and in check at all times, to eliminate the time inappropriately consumed by making repairs and the money wasted by always purchasing little implements.

To make it short, if an equipment needs to be replaced, then replace it. Don't just fix one small part and then pray that the other parts don't fall apart at some other time. Nip the problem at the bud.

Overproduction also presents a risk. Yes, you heard that right. Just because you went beyond your goal doesn't mean you've done better. Instead, you might actually have created a problem by introducing a glut to your inventory.

Stockpiles take up space. And if left unused for a time, get destroyed or supplanted by more recent versions. That's money wasted and space consumed.

In sum, what lean manufacturing does is take out wasteful activities in the workplace and replacing common practices with an as-is-where-is approach. Some companies might find it a little costly at the beginning, but, rest assured, the benefits will stay for a far, far longer term.