What is Lean Manufacturing?

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a series of techniques and workflows designed to help companies reduce costs, increase product quality while improving shop floor efficiency, all leading to improved profitability.

At the center of lean manufacturing are process and production monitoring techniques designed to provide the data needed for advanced analytical techniques, including Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Six Sigma. These techniques and others like them are designed to identify, solve, and remove variation in production processes down to the machine level.

How Lean Manufacturing Delivers Greater Visibility & Control

A lean manufacturing strategy serves as the blueprint for bringing process and quality improvements to every aspect of every plant and production center, delivering greater visibility and control in the process. It guides the defining, deployment, managing, and optimizing of lean manufacturing goals, putting the customers and their needs at the heart of all improvement efforts. The bottom line is that excelling at a lean manufacturing strategy attracts new customers, delights existing ones, and fuels higher gross margins. DELMIAworks ERP helps manufacturers achieve their lean manufacturing objectives, creating end-to-end visibility across the entire manufacturing process.

Lean Manufacturing

3 Core Goals of Lean Manufacturing

Reducing waste using lean manufacturing techniques opens up more time to develop, launch, and produce new products. It is also a proven shock absorber for any manufacturing business, enabling them to continue operating.  The three core strategic goals that often drive manufacturing success and provide a strong competitive edge include the following:

  1. Investing in real-time process and production monitoring to produce the data needed to drive accurate Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Six Sigma techniques.
  2. Re-ordering the flow of information to reduce lag time & lost productivity across shop floors. 
  3. Creating a visibility zone across all shop floors based on real-time intelligence and knowledge.

Combining these three strengths help lessen the effects of disruptions on any manufacturing operating and set a solid foundation for removing the seven types of waste defined below that waste valuable resources, time, and margin:

Lean Strategies to Waste in Production

Lean Manufacturing

  1. Defective products – Scrap, rework customer returns, customer dissatisfaction.
  2. Overproduction – Producing more than internal or external customer needs and producing sooner than the internal or external customer needs.
  3. Waiting – People and machinery waiting for tooling, maintenance, raw materials to be completed across a shop floor.
  4. Non-Utilized Talent – Not providing skilled workers with enough challenging work to keep them engaged and growing in their jobs.
  5. Transportation – Moving materials or people over long distances.
  6. Work-In-Process (WIP) Inventory – Process inventory causes extra handling, extra space, and extra cost.
  7. Excess Motions – Any motion of people or machines which does not add value to the product or service.
  8. Unneeded Processing – Unnecessary (non-value added) or inefficient processing.

Conclusion

Making customers and their needs the catalyst that drives the intensity to improve is the defining trait of all successful lean manufacturing strategies. Manufacturers who emerge to dominate their industries are ingraining quality into every step of their production process. They attain and stay at high manufacturing quality levels by reflex; they become part of their DNA.

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This article was written by
Louis Columbus

Louis is currently serving as Principal, IQMS. Previous positions include Director Product Management at Ingram Cloud, Vice President Marketing at iBASEt, Plex Systems, Senior Analyst at AMR Research (now Gartner), marketing and business development at SaaS start-ups. Mr. Columbus’ academic background includes an MBA from Pepperdine University and the Strategic Marketing Management and Digital Marketing Programs at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Louis also teaches MBA courses in international business, global competitive strategies, international market research, strategic planning and market research. Mr. Columbus currently is a member of the faculty at Webster University and has taught California State University, Fullerton: University of California, Irvine & Marymount University.