Lean Manufacturing: Doing More With Less
One of the big trends in manufacturing today is how lean manufacturing can help manufacturers meet production goals with a limited workforce, inflationary costs for materials, reduced internal and external resources and a very competitive yet uncertain market landscape.
Many manufacturers are having to do more with less. Lean manufacturing is an effective and beneficial approach to this current state. They are not new strategies or based on new ideas. They are well proven; having been implemented in all kinds of operations for decades.
Lean manufacturing is based on major yet simple concepts – commit to eliminate waste, simplify procedures and speed up production so more can be done in less time without any loss of quality. For reference, the eight wastes of lean include:
- Over Production
- Unnecessary Inventory
- Inefficient Transportation
- Unnecessary Motion
- Waiting Times
- Rejects and Defects
- Inappropriate Processing
- Underutilized Talent
By streamlining production, manufacturers are able to save time and thus money on production, labor and energy. The focus of lean manufacturing is to discover ways to work smarter, not harder. Efficiency is the coin of the realm.
To succeed at doing more with less, each part of the operation or office flow should be audited in light of the major concepts mentioned above: eliminating waste, simplifying procedures and speeding up production.
Most organizations have few resources to spare pursuing gains that are incremental at best and detrimental at worst. Beginning with a value stream mapping (VSM) assessment will create visibility of the needs of the system not just a singular process in the value stream. It will provide a host of improvement targets that can benefit from continuous improvement events or activity.
Do not ignore the procedures and direction from management in the audit and value stream map. Those are commonly overlooked and can play a significant role in the efficiency of any flow. Simplifying does not mean getting rid of process steps and rules of implementation. They are important, but they need to be crafted to align well with the established goals.
Selecting lean manufacturing practices is also a good investment in maximizing productivity. The improvements should be maintained even when hiring of new personnel and managers provides valuable breathing room for the existing employees, allows for a return to normal shifts or offers relief to supervisors who may have been overseeing several teams or cells before.
Doing more with less is tough, but current conditions mandate that manufacturers work smarter and continue to look for ways to streamline procedures, eliminate waste and speed up production to maintain their competitiveness. Lean manufacturing can provide a big boost to any manufacturing operation or any other organization.
Please contact us for any lean manufacturing needs and learn how to do more with less without any sacrifice of quality.