The lean manufacturing concept
Lean manufacturing is a business operational type that operates with the objective of eliminating waste in its various forms.Waste is defined as an activity or material that provides no value to the end product or service being offered.Companies are interested in lean manufacturing because of the prospect that it introduces for saving more money, thereby making more money for the business.Lean manufacturing aims to take care of the waste problem from a company-wide approach.This means that everyone from upper management to employees on the manufacturing floor is affected by the lean concepts that are being applied to processes as well as materials.The term used to describe the smooth running process that lean manufactures' aim to achieve is called a value stream.A value stream refers to the continuous flow of products and materials that is not burdened by the starts, stops and delays of dealing with waste.Ideally, you want to create a stream of products and actions that consists of only essential steps, of which no step can be eliminated without dramatically affecting the end result.
Toyota: the industry example of lean manufacturing concepts
Lean Manufacturing is sometimes referred to as the Toyota Production System (TPS).The TPS, and consequently the lean manufacturing concept, was originally developed by the founder of the Toyota Company. The role of Henry Ford and Toyota in lean manufacturing is so significant that we may not have the working knowledge of lean manufacturing as we do today were it not for the role that Ford and the Toyota Company had in applying the lean manufacturing idea with so much commitment.As a result of Ford's innovative thinking and the application of the principles of waste reduction, the Toyota company experienced early success that was unparalleled by any other company at the time.
What types of wastes are there?
Waste has many different forms.There are material wastes (easily identified in most cases) and non material wastes which some companies not applying lean manufacturing principles may easily overlook.It is only in identifying these wastes that steps can then be taken to eliminate them, thereby increasing the overall efficiency of the company.There are several categories of waste in lean manufacturing.They are:
Waste from overproduction - Production of more than what is required by the customer or marketplace means that not all of what you have taken time and used resources for will yield a return.
Waste from transportation - The handling or movement of products that does not add any value to the product if those movements are not required by the production process. This applies mainly to the moving or transport along the production line.
Waste of motion - Waste of motion occurs when workers or machines move more than what is necessary to perform their assigned step in the production line.
Waiting - Time is wasted whenever there is a period of waiting in between steps.Every moment should be used as efficiently as possible.
Processing - Combining steps or having workers or equipment perform multiple steps should be done in order to decrease processing time.
Inventory - Inventory items include all components of the product (including the finished piece) that are not being immediately processed or paid for by the consumer.Producing inventory does not yield an immediate result and is therefore wasting time and resources for a period of time.
Defects - The creation of a defective product is the epitome of waste as all work is done with no positive result.Even if the defective product is re-used, time and effort is wasted when no sale of the finished product can be made.