Lean Consulting & Lean Tools
Where did Lean come from?
Lean manufacturing is the elimination of waste (either waste, materials, or processes) from the manufacturing process.
Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota production executive, developed lean manufacturing techniques in Japan to address the need for high-customization manufacturing. He developed the concept to eliminate many of the problems encountered on the assembly line.
The mass production techniques used by Henry Ford were ill-suited for the Japanese manufacturing methodology since much of their work was based on individualization rather than mass production. MIT researchers who studied this new methodology coined the term ‘lean’ in the ’90s.
Lean manufacturing is intended to create an organization’s productivity, increasing the company’s ability to produce goods or services with the same or fewer resources, thereby more effectively competing in its market.
The increased productivity is especially important considering today’s highly competitive global market.
Lean manufacturing is most commonly applied to manufacturing operations to extend the company’s competitiveness further.
Many organizations have found that making the non-manufacturing operations they support more efficient and the organizations become more successful.
Lean manufacturing looks to increase efficiency by eliminating non-value-added tasks.
A central theme in lean manufacturing is the measurement of non-value-added activities to determine how well the organization is moving towards a leaner environment. The non-value-added activities typically measured include:
- Lead time
- Material travel
- Equipment uptime (operating equipment efficiency)
- Lean Tools
As with any new idea, there are a number of tools used by lean practitioners in order to increase efficiency.
Some of these tools are:
- The five S’s (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) – This is used to order an area to allow for more efficient use of materials and workspace
- Kaizen (continuous improvement) activities – Kaizen is based on the identification and prioritization of improvement ideas in order to keep the company steadily moving forward.
- Inventory reduction – To minimize expenses and free up floor space for value-added work.
- SMED (single minute exchange of die) – This is the measure of tool setup and changeover time. Reducing SMED increases profits by allowing more of the machine time to be used to make parts instead of being ‘down’ for the changeover.
- TPM (total preventative maintenance) – predicts and anticipates maintenance activities and allows for scheduling of these activities at times convenient to the manufacturing areas.
- Poka Yoke (mistake proofing) – This is the methodology to eliminate the opportunity for errors (similar to making manhole covers round – they can’t fall into the hole since they are perfectly symmetrical)
- Waste elimination – To improve efficiencies and increase profitability
- The pull concept (kanban) – The concept of delivering raw materials or subassemblies to an area as it is used up
- Just-in-time – To minimize inventory, suppliers send material to the manufacturing organization just-in-time for its use in production, with no storage
- Cycle time reduction – To improve efficiency by doing the same job in a shorter time than the baseline measurement
- Takt time – A German word for the baton that a musical conductor uses, it is the rate of manufacture precisely matched to customer demand. Using Takt time allows a company to produce materials at the same rate as sales, so there is no finished inventory in stock. It is often called the heartbeat of a lean system.