Lean Manufacturing principles have been adopted by factories worldwide over the past several years. Upward Lean Manufacturing trends demonstrate how businesses strive to increase efficiency and achieve continuous improvement. As new technology has emerged in the industry, Lean initiatives have become even more robust and have led to increasingly efficient practices on the production floor.
But how does Lean Manufacturing increase efficiency, and why should businesses who have not yet adopted new Lean initiatives consider doing so? Here, we will discuss what Lean Manufacturing is, how it differs from other initiatives such as Smart Manufacturing, and how new technology supporting Lean Manufacturing can improve efficiency in your factory and increase performance and results.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Lean Manufacturing is a method that focuses on reducing the amount of waste created during the manufacturing process while also increasing productivity. It originated in Japan, and Toyota, with its unique and famous Toyota Production System, is credited for creating and popularizing the Lean philosophy.
How Is It Different from Smart Manufacturing?
The process of Lean Manufacturing differs from other manufacturing systems, such as Smart Manufacturing, as it has been around for several decades longer. While Smart Manufacturing is still a widely undiscovered realm of manufacturing that has much development ahead of it, Lean Manufacturing initiatives have already established patterns of payback, efficiency, and continual improvement.
There are similarities between the two methods, though. Both focus on increasing efficiency by doing what they can to eliminate downtime. In addition to efficiency, this also boosts productivity and creates a more streamlined factory environment. With new technology emerging that could fit within both Lean and Smart Manufacturing initiatives, Lean methods can become even more advanced and proficient.
How Does Lean Manufacturing Improve Efficiency?
Lean Manufacturing improves efficiency in the factory and workplace by focusing on five principles. These principles are:
- Value Stream
By ensuring that employees and workplace procedures adhere to these principles, companies that use the Lean Manufacturing method can expect to see an increase in efficiency and productivity and enjoy a work environment that reduces wasted time and resources.
Companies must identify the value of a product, but they must do it from the perspective of the customer. This helps determine how much the customer is willing to pay and take action to eliminate cost and waste from the production process to find the customer’s ideal price while still achieving the highest profit possible.
Companies need to evaluate and analyze the value of products from raw materials through to disposal. If the companies identify a stage that is wasteful, it must be removed.
Creating a robust flow system is vital for removing waste. This eliminates functional barriers and ensures processes are smooth and straightforward throughout the process. It removes the potential for interruptions and creates a harmonized set of procedures.
Establishing a pull system means work only begins when you need it. It is the opposite of push systems that other factories use and means the machines only operate when there is a demand for a product.
The search for perfection is a critical component of Lean Manufacturing. This is done by finding the root cause of quality issues and removing waste across the value stream.
The Toyota Production System also outlined Seven Wastes. These wastes, processes, or resources are considered to add no value to the customer, and companies should, therefore, endeavor to do everything they can to remove them from the everyday workflow.
The Seven Wastes are:
- Unnecessary transportation
- Excess inventory
- Unnecessary movement of people, equipment, or machinery
- Waiting around, either individuals waiting or idle or disused equipment
- Product over-production
- Over-processing in manufacturing a product that has no value for the customer
Lean Manufacturers also highlight an eighth waste, which is a waste of unused talent or ingenuity.
How Can You Eliminate Waste and Achieve Lean Values through Technology?
As you work to achieve the principles of Lean Manufacturing and reduce waste, innovative manufacturing technologies can be an invaluable resource.
Communication systems in manufacturing have become especially popular, with the evolution of advanced Andon systems creating unique opportunities for your staff to communicate and get reports in real time.
Andon systems were an early aspect of Lean Manufacturing in Japan that employed different colored lights to indicate issues such as parts that need replacing, an issue with a machine, and more. Now, Andons have become highly advanced machines that can make adopting Lean Manufacturing initiatives simpler and faster.
VersaCall’s advanced Andon systems include features such as preset communication and escalation lists that automatically notify appropriate personnel of incidents through text, call, email, or pager. They also include real-time dashboards and archived data reporting that can identify and eliminate root causes of downtime quickly and facilitate goal-making to improve future performance.
These features cause a significant decrease in downtime as reported by customers, meaning the use of this system eliminates unnecessary waste and achieves many of the principles of Lean Manufacturing discussed above. This positive impact ripples through your company as production increases, idle or disused equipment time is reduced, and defects are quickly found, reported, and fixed before causing significant downtime.
Factories can ensure quality performance as communication across all departments is enhanced through advanced communication systems. Lean Manufacturing has become more within reach than ever before because of the unique reporting and dashboard features associated with these communication systems. By taking advantage of this technology, your factory can increase uptime and production and consistently meet continuous improvement goals.