6 Tips For Implementing Lean Manufacturing In Your Business

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Lean manufacturing refers to optimizing the manufacturing strategies in your business by using lean principles to achieve smarter methodologies and faster innovation to deliver more value to its customers. To fully implement this in your business, it’s important to note that it’s not enough to choose only a few lean principles to apply. You have to rethink your organization’s entire manufacturing model and see how lean principles can be applied every step of the way. 

With that, assess your current manufacturing methodologies. In keeping with current times and to outsmart your competition, it has to be as straightforward as possible. If you’re still stuck with a complicated process, that’s a signal for you to give lean manufacturing solutions a go. 

Keeping that in mind, consider applying these six tips for lean manufacturing in your business operations. 

6 Tips For Implementing Lean Manufacturing In Your Business

1. Eliminate Waste 

To start, go through every stage of your manufacturing process and look for areas where you can find a lot of waste. When all the lean principles are taken as one, its goals lean towards eliminating waste. This starts with identifying what those types of waste are and then doing away with it, if possible. 

This process can easily be completed by remembering the acronym ‘DOWNTIME’: 

  • Defects, which is the costliest type of waste in manufacturing, especially when those defects aren’t identified early on, and they’ve made their way to the customers.
  • Overproduction, which means making more products than the usual quantity ordered, wasting labor and other resources which could’ve otherwise been productively utilized elsewhere.
  • Waiting, which happens when there are repairs, for instance, and you have to wait for parts to arrive before certain machinery can be used.
  • Not using people’s talents means wasting a team member’s skills and abilities, particularly when they’re not placed in the right positions. 
  • Transportation affects the entirety of the manufacturing process from the supply chain to the final delivery of products to the customers.
  • Inventory, usually determined by the supply chain process, often takes up a lot of valuable space in the warehouse.
  • Motion refers to all the movements used in manufacturing, like bending and lifting. For instance, three employees are sharing one tool in a workstation, where there’s a lot of time wasted in motions used to retrieve those tools.
  • Excess Processing, wherein so much time is spent perfecting certain product features, is found to have no positive impact on the part’s functionality. 

2.Evaluate Your Business’ Fitness 

The fitness of your business also refers to its ability to commit to implementing lean manufacturing. This decision is a very big one to make, one which should be uniform across all levels of manufacturing. Henceforth, you must be certain about your business’ fitness and capability to accept this change. Otherwise, you can’t enjoy the maximum benefits of lean manufacturing when it’s only done so haphazardly. 

To get insights on this matter, you should review aspects like: 

  • The quality and stability of the products you’re manufacturing; 
  • The strengths of every member of your manufacturing workforce, so you can successfully identify who the problem solvers are, identified through having regular meetings and assessments;
  • The availability and quality of all the machines in your production line. 

3. Use The Right Tools For Lean Manufacturing 

You can use many tools for lean manufacturing to ensure that it’s aptly implemented into your manufacturing system. Familiarize yourself with what those tools are, and use them wisely in every stage of your manufacturing process where you’re certain it fits well, as to use. 

Those tools include: 

  • Rank order clustering is useful for aiding in production flow analysis; 
  • Control charts to check the workflows in your entire manufacturing process; 
  • Single-minute exchange of die (SMED), which is one of the fastest methods to move between each manufacturing stage; 
  • Kanban boards are used to visualize workflows; 
  • Total productive maintenance is used to improve manufacturing quality and integrity. 

4. Automate As Much As You Can 

Not all processes within the manufacturing system are automated, even in today’s day and age. Many companies still use manual labor, often out of choice or in the absence of the latest technology to automate those manual processes. 

The whole premise here isn’t to replace human workers. After all, the machines aren’t going to run themselves. Manufacturing plants still need people, only that automation should now be a priority in all facets where such is possible. 

Automation is necessary for lean manufacturing. It brings in many benefits, such as the following: 

  • It may reduce the onset of human error; 
  • It may help solve problems right when they first ensure through alert systems, particularly when there seems to be inconsistency somewhere in the manufacturing process; 
  • It can cut down time spent doing laborious and time-eating tasks, so now your workforce will have more time on their hands to focus on other important functions in your manufacturing plant. 

5. Identify Lean Value 

The core of every business should be creating value, the very reason customers are willing to keep paying for your products and services. The inability to prove your worth or value to your customers would result in an unpleasant situation whereby would-be customers would be unwilling to part with their hard-earned money. 

This is where lean manufacturing seeks to benefit your company by ensuring that the lean value is prioritized and highlighted each time you come up with new products and services. Anything that doesn’t contribute to your business’s lean value is superfluous. Achieving this successfully also means being clear about your objective from the first step of your manufacturing operations. 

6. Experiment And Innovate 

Lastly, be willing to experiment and innovate. Having successfully implemented lean manufacturing isn’t a reason for you to skip innovation. Lean manufacturing is a dynamic process, so you have to keep it up. This means that when changes are brought in by new trends in the manufacturing industry, your business should be pliant yet strong enough to adapt to those changes. 

A good lean manufacturing system feeds on continuous innovation and improvement. This means avoiding complacency, so you’re always willing and able to critically assess the problem areas in your manufacturing process for the overall benefit of your organization’s profitability. 

The Bottom-line 

If you’ve been keeping yourself updated with the now in business trends, you’ve already heard of the concept of lean manufacturing. This may be new, but it’s not necessarily foreign to many. However, despite this knowledge, there are still a lot of questions and confusion concerning how to apply lean manufacturing. As you may gather from the insights above, applying lean manufacturing means learning and unlearning certain processes you may have gotten used to doing. Overall, your goal for implementing lean manufacturing in business should be to make small, incremental changes that improve your operations’ quality and efficiency. 

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