What you need to know about lean manufacturing
Lean manufacturing is becoming one of the hottest management systems which is used in the manufacturing world today.If you are interested in using lean manufacturing, there are a couple things that you need to know.This article will discuss a little about the history of lean manufacturing, to help you develop a good background knowledge of the system, and will discuss some of the programs, tools, and approaches which are used in conjunction with lean manufacturing.
One of the things you should know about lean manufacturing is that it mostly comes from the Toyota Production System, which is also known as TPS.This system is well known for its emphasis on reducing Toyota's original "seven wastes" in order to not only become more efficient, but also to improve the customer value of products.Lean manufacturing, therefore, is a means to help people identify and progressively eliminate waste.Through this elimination of waste, the quality of products and work is improved, as well as production time.Furthermore, as a consequence of efficiency, the costs of production also decrease with lean management as well!
To help focus on the elimination of waste, lean manufacturing focuses on different types of "tools" or methods.This is another important thing about lean manufacturing that you need to know.One of these tools is called "kaizen," it is focuses on continuously improving products.One popular event that is used in lean manufacturing is called a kaizen blitz.This kaizen blitz, or also called a kaizen event, is a focused, short-term project which helps to improve a certain process and eliminate waste.This is a great way for companies to pinpoint and work on specific areas which need help in decreasing and eventually eliminating waste.A kaizen blitz or event usually lasts anywhere from two to ten days.
Focusing on the smooth "flow" or traffic of the work production is another aspect of lean manufacturing which you should know.Toyota implements this strategy in their work, and one of the tools that they use to achieve this is called "production leveling."Through production leveling, the company can focus on eliminating any kind of fluctuation of output that can exist in the production line.This helps the work to remain constant.One of the strategies in Toyota's production leveling is to make the batches small that are worked on, and to make one model at a time.This causes the production assembly line to work more efficiently and reduces a lot of wasted time.
Another thing that you need to know about lean manufacturing is that it is often linked with Six Sigma.Six Sigma is another methodology which helps to reduce waste by reducing the process variation.This process was originally developed by Motorola as a way of helping to improve company efficiency by eliminating different flaws and defects.One of the core elements which Six Sigma focuses on is "stable operations," or to make sure that the consistent, measurable processes help to ensure what the customer will feel and see in the finished product.Another thing Six Sigma focuses on is process capability, meaning that is determines what your production process is capable of doing.The Six Sigma approach has spread across the world, especially due to the compatibility it has with lean manufacturing.The sheer popularity of lean manufacturing has also contributed to the spread of Six Sigma.If you are interested in implementing Six Sigma in your company as part of your conversion to lean manufacturing, there are specialized companies which can help to train you and your employees.These companies, such as iSixSigma, focus on specific levels and tactics which are part of the Six Sigma method.
The difference between these two approaches is not the goal but the prime approach to achieving it. The implementation of smooth flow exposes quality problems which always existed and thus waste reduction naturally happens as a consequence. The advantage claimed for this approach is that it naturally takes a system-wide perspective whereas a 'waste' focus has this perspective assumed. Some Toyota staff have expressed some surprise at the 'tool' based approach as they see the tools as work-arounds made necessary where flow could not be fully implemented and not as aims in themselves.