Do you ever have to wait for someone else to finish a task before you can get on with your own work?
Do you have a large inventory of unsold stock?
Do you order materials months in advance of when they are needed?
How about flexibility? If consumers want a modification to your product, can you quickly change your processes to meet their needs?
The core idea behind lean manufacturing is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.
Eliminating waste along entire value streams creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at lower costs and with fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. Companies are able to respond to changing customer needs with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.
Where Do We Minimize Waste?
Waste is anything that doesn't add value to the end product. In Lean Manufacturing, there are eight categories of waste that you should monitor:
1. Overproduction – Are you producing more than consumers demand?
2. Waiting – How much lag time is there between production steps?
3. Inventory (work in progress) – Are your supply levels and work in progress inventories too high?
4. Transportation – Do you move materials efficiently?
5. Over-processing – Do you work on the product too many times, or otherwise work inefficiently?
6. Motion – Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?
7. Defects – How much time do you spend finding and fixing production mistakes?
8. Workforce – Do you use workers efficiently?
When lean manufacturing is properly applied, all expenditures, resources and activities that do not create value for the customer are eliminated.
A well- executed lean manufacturing strategy will:
• improve labour productivity and reduce labour costs
• reduce total cycle time
• keep inventory at optimal levels; increase working capital
• decrease the physical motion of the product flow
• significantly reduce product defects
• create organizational capacity to grow
With a lean philosophy, you enjoy the benefit of continuous improvement. So, rather than making rapid, irregular changes that are disruptive to the workplace, you make small and sustainable changes that the people who actually work with the processes, equipment, and materials will take forward.