What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing, also known as lean production, is a production method that focuses on maximizing productivity, while simultaneously minimizing waste, within a manufacturing process. Basically, it allows for the streamlining of workflows.   

An integral part of improving business processes is minimizing waste. By doing this, lean manufacturers can deliver value to the customer. Waste is considered as anything that doesn’t add value for the customers.  For example, types of waste include activities, tasks, and products or services that involve time, money, and expertise that don’t create value for the customer.

The Benefits of Lean Manufacturing

Eliminates Waste

As previously mentioned, it is important for businesses to minimize waste to improve business processes.  It is important because it can have a negative impact on costs, deadlines, and resources. 

Improves Quality

Businesses can experience improved quality, thereby increasing their efficiency. This means that they can better compete and meet changing consumer behaviours. 

Reduces Costs

Businesses that have better operations and management of materials will minimize the overproduction and surpluses of materials. Therefore, reducing storage costs.

Reduces Time

Businesses can save time by conducting efficient working conditions. For instance, this will allow for faster delivery of goods and services to the customer.

The Five Lean Principles

Lean manufacturing has five core principles. These principles are used as a foundation to implement lean techniques within an organization.

Diagram demonstrating the five lean principles
1. Identify Value

Value can only be defined from the perspective from the customer. To clarify, it is how much the product or service is worth to them and/or how much they are willing to pay for the product or service. For example, questions to help identify value include how long does delivery take? How much does it cost? What is the benefit to the customer? Does it solve my customers’ problem?

2. Map Value Streams

Once the value has been identified, the goal is to use it as a reference point and map all the relevant steps and activities involved in creating value for the customer. Furthermore, this helps to identify waste and improvements. By identifying and eliminating waste in each step or activity, you have a better chance of giving customers exactly what they want.  Consequently, this will lead to the reduction of production costs. 

3. Create Flow

After waste is identified and eliminated from the value stream, the next step is to ensure that the remaining steps flow smoothly. For instance, there shouldn’t be any delays, interruptions, or problems. Some strategies that can assist in creating flow include dividing or modifying steps, balancing out the workload,  promoting collaboration between different departments, and training your workforce to be flexible and versatile.

4. Establish Pull

A pull system is established by producing products only when there is demand. In other words, it allows for just-in-time manufacturing or delivery. This means that products are only produced when they are needed and in the quantity that they are needed. As a result, production doesn’t need a head start and materials don’t need to be stockpiled. Therefore, it reduces costs for both the manufacturer/producer and the customer.

5. Seek Constant Improvement

Principles one to four are essential for identifying and eliminating waste. However, principle five is the most important: making lean thinking and continuous improvement a part of an organization’s culture. It is essential that all team members within each level of the organization are involved in implementing lean. 

The Tools and Techniques

Lean manufacturing has a variety of tools and techniques to help implement the lean technique. Listed below are a couple examples:

Suggestion Platform

A Suggestion Platform is a digitized version of a traditional suggestion box. Rather than having a physical suggestion box, employees can submit suggestions and ideas via an online portal. This tool increases employee engagement and participation. As a result, it improves internal processes within an organization. 

Continuous Improvement System

The Continuous Improvement System helps promote and implement the continuous improvement mindset. In other words, it helps employees work collaboratively and proactively. As a result, it improves manufacturing processes such as eliminating waste.

 

Lean Manufacturing Software

Some organizations offer platforms that solely focus on only one tool, for example employee engagement or safety management. On the other hand, organizations like us, TheLeanSuite, have developed a lean manufacturing software to contain multiple built-in lean manufacturing tools.

TheLeanSuite features most or all of the relevant lean manufacturing tools required to increases productivity and efficiency within a business. To clarify, it enables manufacturers and factories to apply lean principles and techniques into their internal processes. Get started today with a free demo!