Principles and Practice of Lean Manufacturing

Principles and Practice of Lean Manufacturing

One of the major goals organizations have today is to produce as much as possible, in the best quality with minimum costs and wastage and in less time. This is due to the uncertain and ever changing business environment where only the efficient producers are thriving.

This is where lean manufacturing comes in. It is the set of processes and principles that embrace all activity geared at maximizing productivity while eliminating wasteful processes In favor of a system that  promotes increased productivity, quality and profitability.

There are five principles of lean manufacturing

Specified values

Lean techniques are about value. They are about getting the most of it from resources, time and processes that a company employs towards optimum productivity. Placing a value on these factors enables everyone in the manufacturing process to recognize hat needs to be improved and what needs downsizing or elimination in the organization.

Value chain identification

The progression of raw materials through all the processes of manufacturing to the point the customer enjoys a product is referred to as the value chain. TXM-Lean manufacturing identifies this stream of activities and maps out each process to establish the most effective, cost reducing, waste free and time efficient processes and how they should follow one another. This enables the company to produce at high quality and quantity is the least time period.

Creation of flow of value

This is where waste processes and activities are eliminated. All the activities and processes that do not add value along the value chain are removed and replaced with what adds value to the overall product. This ensures that despite the product getting to the customer in good time and with a minimum of costs, it is also of high quality that the customer will appreciate.

Responding to customer demands

Here, lean manufacturing determines what and when do customers need products from a specific company. This will reduce waste in the costs of storing large amounts of raw materials and finished goods just sitting in the warehouse. Customers’ demands will be studied and only what is needed at a particular time is produced.

Aiming for the best possible output

After identifying the value chain, creating a flow of value, and identifying the customers’ demands it is time to aim for perfection.

Here is where each task and process is optimized to bring out the best possible outcome for each activity all focused on a perfect product. It is under this principle that processes that were once thought to be beneficial might show the opposite quality.

To help identify waste and eliminate it, many companies employ the 5S methodology  a systematic way of organizing the workplace. 5S stands for five steps: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. In 5S, everything in a workspace is organized and unnecessary items are removed. Eliminating the excess and having a clean space makes it easier to find the parts of processes that aren’t beneficial. Consequently, many often refer to 5S as the foundation of lean manufacturing. When spaces are clean and logical, people can spend more time thinking about what they’re producing for their customers.

When firms put the customer first, and aim at producing a product efficiently with a minimum of costs and wastage, they are unlikely to go wrong. On the other hand, if companies fail to follow these principles, they may find that they are in production but the customers are not satisfied or the production cost is too high.

Lean manufacturing is a continuous and sustained effort that a company will employ. It is not an annual event like stocktaking. The moment management and staff realize that it is part of the new system of handling production will be the moment the company will take off again this time with renewed vigor now that wastage of time, resources and space is at a minimum and all focus is in production.  The principles outlined above will assist greatly in the achievement of the goals set out by the firm and underlined by the lean methodology.

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