Lean production is achieving the most out of every resource and finding better and better ways to do things. In this attempt, number of lean manufacturing tools have been developed and refined. Let’s discuss some of the most powerful tools to use in lean manufacturing operations.
5S is a system that focuses on cleanliness and organization in the workplace by following five important standards:
- Sort: Maintaining/ keeping workplace free of all unnecessary items and clutter.
- Set: all things/ processes must be kept in order for each unique workplace to ensure maximum ease and efficiency.
- Shine: every employee should play a janitor’s role; everyone is responsible for keeping their workspace clean and tidy.
- Standardize: all roles and tasks must be standardized in lists and schedules to promote good practices.
- Sustain: ensure every worker / employee is committed to the long-term goal.
Just-In-Time is a form of lean manufacturing and a logistics method that is used for inventory control. JIT is a system of manufacturing which refers to what the customer orders, in the quantity the order by customer, and delivery date i.e.when the customer wants it. This results into reduction or elimination of buffer and/or inventory, and means the use of delivered components within minutes of their delivery.
Gemba literally means “the real place” in Japanese, and refers to the company floor in manufacturing industry– or any place where the activity happens. In lean manufacturing terms, this technique includes a “Gemba walk”, upper management must frequently go on at the factory site. This allows management to get a real feel for the process and any issues to be addressed.
Value Stream Mapping
This tool includes creating flow diagram to represent each and every step in the value process. Such a map allows for evaluation of all steps to establish waste and inefficiency and to cut down manufacturing time.
Kaizen means continuous improvement and it is known to be one of the most powerful and important tools for lean manufacturing operations. It is a Japanese term, kai, meaning “change,” and zen, meaning “good,” this tool focuses the need for good change on continual basis. This refers to the documentation and management procedures and taking input and feedback from all employees of the company. Over time, this lean manufacturing tool will result into and produce powerful changes for the better.
In this tool, company aims to identify the weakest link or proverbial bottleneck holding back the speed of the overall process. Lean manufacturing uses bottleneck analyses to identify the slowest processes and steps in the manufacturing activity. Accelerating just one or two steps can eventually speed up the entire manufacturing stream.
It is a Japanese word for “signs” which refers to a system of using cards or signs to indicate three phases each product moves through such as: do, doing, and done. Using a visual “pull” system, it gets easier to manage parts needed for a specific production run. It helps in reduction of excess inventory or backlogged goods/ products.
This tool is linked with Kanban and JIT, integrating all production elements through ongoing examination, evaluation, and improvement. In attempt to provide stability and continuity, continuous flow literally means leaving the factory up and running 24 hours a day without any interruption and very little waste if any. It’s considered to be opposite of batch production.
Lean By products: Agility, Competitiveness, and Quality
With the help of following these various principles of lean manufacturing, accepting these tools, and narrowing down key wastes, many manufacturers who specialize in lean concepts are able to create highly desirable byproducts. Lean production practices results into agility in syncing with the competitive demands of a swiftly evolving marketplace.
By emphasizing on total expense and value rather than on single component costs helps to eliminate waste as well as inefficiency, indirectly promoting quality and customer-driven solutions.
The speed at which products flow through an organization from start to finish is directly proportional to the response time to market demands and customer satisfaction. For example the more efficient manufacturing process is, the more quality the company can afford for each rupee spent. The main benefit of Lean manufacturing practice is enabling producers to navigate the changing market with precision and agility. This means traveling light and from a manufacturing process utilizing surgical precision. In the end, key to become giant of manufacturing industry in modern times is to be as streamlined, stripped down, and simplified as possible.