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Optimizing Your Manufacturing Process Using Lean Manufacturing

Aug 17, 2007
Lean Manufacturing is the principle of increasing revenue not just by increasing sales but by reducing waste. The Lean Manufacturing philosophy names seven major wastes that should be dealt with - Over-production, Transportation, Waiting time, Processing, Motion, Inventory, and Scrap. The idea here is that only when one is able to control the waste that goes here can one truly be able to control earnings and expenditure.

Lean, as in free from superficial baggage, aims to help manufacturers become more cost efficient and less wasteful. The principle follows a domino effect. If waste is reduced, then by the process that reduces waste, the quality of the product is increased. If the quality of the product is increased, the production time and the production cost decreases. This whole scenario ends up with an increase in total revenue from sales.

If the process is able to minimize or eliminate the following, then the production will be said to be in its lean form. Also, with Lean Manufacturing follows greater income, greater quality, and less waste an interesting for any company whether they are already pulling down a good amount of revenue or if they are flagging in their sales.

Defects

This involves creating a process that minimizes defects. It also puts in place a system for recognizing and fixing defects. Also defects should be fixed at the source instead of when it has gone through production and landed in the hands of the customer.

Overproduction

The creation of surplus, unsellable products has been a problem for a long time now. There is an optimal balance where that the production is able to produce just the right number of products to satisfy consumer demand. Beyond this, there is only waste. Also, this is what Lean Manufacturing is trying to avoid waste.

Transportation

The ideal is to be able to transport the product with the least amount of effort and energy possible. This involves transporting products no further than is necessary by demands. The waste of transportation is then avoided.

Waiting

To get optimal production, one needs to set up a production pipline wherein there is minimal or no waiting between stages. The wait time between stages is wasted time. Also, wasted time is wasted resources.

Good production management allows for the right loading of processes so that a process always has something to do and has no down time or slack time. This calls for the proper timing of production schedules so as to reduce wasted time and effort.

Inventory

While an inventory has to be reasonably stocked, it should follow that the inventory should not be overstocked. If there is a discrepancy between the supply and demand, then there is sure to be waste. The best proposition here is to have the supply and demand meet dead center so that there is no waste in production, nor is there no loss in income due to underutilization of demand.

Motion

Wasted motion results from such activities as repeatedly looking for lost tools or papers. It also results from the lack of proper scheduling of activities so that these activities can be done in the most efficient of ways.

This results in the Japanese habit of cleaning up and organizing their things every so often. This gives them a good idea of where their equipment is, and how the equipment should be taken care of. Most companies try to teach their employees to be efficient not only with equipment time and motion but with their activities as well.

Processing

A process can ultimately be fine tuned and modified so that it is in a constant state of improvement. A process cannot hope to be perfect the first time out. Also, neither can a perfect system remain perfect for long.

Process planning should adapt to current situations and should be ever critical of self. Only then can there be any meaningful and productive change in the processing system. Most acclaimed manufacturers have a system by that the organization can modify and improve its manufacturing system.
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