“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you've been in the business.” —Oscar De La Hoya
While manufacturing isn’t much like boxing, De La Hoya’s words apply to every pursuit. Every production line can be improved upon to increase efficiency.
One way of doing this is through lean manufacturing. There are dozens of methods to choose from; selecting one and applying it rigorously could boost productivity in your facility.
Learn more about lean manufacturing and the five methods we listed below.
Lean methodology in manufacturing
What is lean manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing, as defined on iGAM’s Glossary, is a methodology that applies practices and principles to reduce waste, minimize downtime, increase cost savings, and produce sustainably.
There are many different ways to practice lean manufacturing, as you’ll find out below. From production line formation to energy usage, all lean manufacturing aims to reduce unnecessary waste in the form of time, energy, money, and materials.
History of lean
Lean manufacturing started all the way back to the 15th century in Venice, where the Venetian army created a standardized process to build warships more efficiently. It is said that their process became so advanced that the king of France was invited to watch a ship be built in less than an hour!
The true start to today’s form of lean manufacturing started in 1913, however, when Henry Ford developed the automotive production line using interchangeable parts and standard labor.
After World War II, two key players at Toyota, Kiichiro Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno, innovated Ford’s production line into what is known as the Toyota Production System.
Since then, new and improved methods of lean manufacturing have been invented and applied to enhance production.
How lean manufacturing could benefit your company
By implementing lean manufacturing into your production line, you’ll experience improvements in:
- Product quality: A standardized process that is highly repeatable and effective reduces human error, causing your end product will be more consistent.
- Lead time: Similar to outsourcing, lean manufacturing positively affects production speed, which means your product will be shipped to the customer sooner.
- Uptime: Inefficiencies in production cause downtime and can be detrimental to the health of your company. By using lean manufacturing, downtime is reduced and productivity increases.
- Cost savings: Downtime is expensive. By reducing downtime, you can expect to save thousands of dollars in one day. Additionally, fewer wasted products and materials increase your cost savings.
- Sustainability: Lean manufacturing improves your green rating by minimizing waste. You can feel good knowing you are doing your part for the environment while still serving your customers the best product possible.
A standardized and highly efficient production system will allow your company to grow without incurring more waste.
5 types of lean manufacturing methods
Kaizen is a Japanese method of business philosophy that encompasses all aspects of culture, services, and production, including manufacturing.
The word Kaizen means “continuous improvement” or “change for the better.” By focusing on using holistic methods, Kaizen improves product quality, company culture, and production efficiency.
In manufacturing, Kaizen looks like standardization, measuring results and comparing results, and innovating to improve processes. This is done over and over again to perfect the production system.
5S stands for Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke). This is another Japanese form of lean manufacturing that focuses on efficiency by eliminating unnecessary processes.
Organization and standardization are big parts of 5S. These are especially important in manufacturing, in which many moving parts and products can make it difficult to stay efficient and profitable.
Another Japanese method of lean manufacturing is Kanban. (Do you notice a pattern? Follow in the footsteps of those who mastered their skill to see success!)
Kanban displays workflow processes visually to define, manage, and improve production. By using Kanban methodology, the entire team is aware of the production process, encouraging improved communication and fewer bottlenecks.
4. Cellular manufacturing
Cellular manufacturing focuses on strategic arrangement of equipment and processes to reduce waste. It originated in Russia in the 1930s.
For example, a production line that doesn’t use cellular manufacturing methods is disorganized. Instead of a streamlined process, production occurs erratically throughout the warehouse.
A production line that uses cellular manufacturing methods flows smoothly from one place to the next, such as in a U-shape or a straight line. This is far more effective because less time is wasted sending products from one place to the next.
Last but not least, 3P stands for Production, Preparation, and Process. 3P is yet another Japanese method that eliminates waste through process and product design.
3P relies on generating creative ideas to promote innovation. These ideas then go through a process of elimination to keep only the necessary processes before they are applied to production.
Get lean today
If you are a manufacturer in 2021, then start going lean today. Not only will you experience the benefits listed above, but you’ll be more competitive in your industry against the global market.
Try out one or more of these lean manufacturing methods, or automate your facility with an industrial robot, to get ahead this year.
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