With the economic downturn and the growing trend of outsourcing operations to other countries, manufacturers face a variety of challenges. How can your manufacturing business stay competitive during these difficult times? The answer lies in lean manufacturing.
The Philosophy of Lean
At the heart of lean manufacturing lies the principle of preserving value with less work. Value is anything that a customer will pay for; all other things can be eliminated. Lean manufacturing can improve your bottom line by improving efficiency, lowering production costs, and getting rid of waste. How can lean manufacturing achieve these results? For one, a business can lower costs by using customer demand as a basis for production. This will result in less overproduction and less storage, which in turn leads to lower inventory costs.
How Lean Manufacturing Began
The ideas of lean manufacturing were used since before the twentieth century. With the success of his mass assembly manufacturing system, Henry Ford popularized and spread the concepts of efficiency and waste elimination. Later on, automobile company Toyota defined efficiency using a set of ideas that came to be the Toyota Production System (TPS). The basis of TPS lies in creating a perfect workflow by delivering the right things in the right quantities at the right time. TPS is known for its ability to minimize waste and for its flexibility in responding to change.
How Lean Manufacturing Can Help Your Business
One of the basic principles of lean manufacturing is using demand as a basis for manufacturing. This leads to lower costs, as well as improved productivity, less cycle time, reduced inventory, and better use of capital equipment. Lean manufacturing principles strive to create an environment where products and processes are continually improved. In this environment, the amount of waste is limited, workplace functionality increases, and customer service and product performance are improved.
Lean manufacturing can achieve these outcomes because of its ability to eliminate waste. Waste is anything that takes up resources, space and time but brings no value to a service or product. There are seven key wastes, which include inventory, transport, motion (in excess of the required amount to complete a process), waiting (for the next step in production), over processing, overproduction, and defects (inspection and repair). Eliminating these wastes simplifies work so that processes can be easily understood, executed, and managed.
Companies that have engaged in lean management have found measurable improvements in manufacturing processes. Some of these include increased earnings and profits, higher productivity, and improved customer satisfaction. Lean techniques can also streamline the production process, yielding greater efficiency and fewer mistakes.
If you are thinking about implementing the strategies of lean into your manufacturing software solution, remember that it involves more than cutting the costs on the factory floor. Lean manufacturing encompasses a bigger picture to help businesses lower overall cost and improve performance. The correct implementation of lean manufacturing will lead to a more competitive and cost-effective manufacturing process for your business.