Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a production process adopted across the world. It has evolved from Just in time (JIT) production system. It is originated...

Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a production process adopted across the world.

      It has evolved from the Just in time (JIT) production system. It originated in Toyota in Japan.

      The system was conceptualized in the 1930s.

      This process is accepted and followed across the globe.

      The lean process helps in cutting down unnecessary cost.

      Lean manufacturing processes or lean enterprises are the must-know concepts for people interested in modern production systems.

Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) estimated that 60 % of the total manufacturing activities in a production system are waste.

      These actions do not add value to the customers and can be eliminated.

Automobile giant Toyota was the first to adopt a lean manufacturing system.

      During that time, it was referred to as Toyota Production System.

      The process at Toyota not only enabled waste reduction but also minimized faulty production.

      Steps in production that did not help customers are unnecessary. Toyota realized this very early.

      Their lean manufacturing system revolutionized production techniques.

      Toyota has adopted two processes namely Jidoka and the JIT model.

      Jidoka is the mechanization of processes with human help.

      JIT ensures that the previous step is complete in the production line before starting the subsequent step.

      This enables synchronization of the process without any unnecessary production.

      There are many companies globally that followed the path of Toyota leading to cost reduction.  

      The companies that adopted lean management could achieve enhanced efficiency.

Dakota Bodies is a company based in South Dakota. They build truck bodies.

      The company established a lean management team to work with the top management.

      The goal for the lean program was defined. The training was provided to the key officials on the shop floor.

      The objective was to support just-in-time manufacturing and inventory reduction.

      As a result, the company's revenue jumped by 20 %. 5 % was the overall gain for the company in productivity.

James Womack and Daniel Jones were the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI).

They defined five key principles of Lean manufacturing as below

Five Key Principles of Lean Manufacturing

  • Value – Value is always defined based on customers’ requirements. It may be the product specification, timeline, or price. All should precisely indicate a specific value for a specific product.

  • Value Stream – This is for Identifying the value stream for each product. A production process will have multiple steps. Each step needs to be defined and mapped with the end product. Anything found to be unnecessary is to be pruned. This keeps the process lean and minimizes the wastage of any resources.

  • Check Flow – Once the unnecessary steps are removed, the process should be tested for any bottleneck or disturbances. The remaining steps should have a smooth flow without any interruption. The flow starting from the raw material to the end-user should be seamless. There is a need for a lot of cross-functional exchange of information. It improves the efficiency of the process significantly.

  • Pull – The production and logistics should be such that customers always get a good pull of material. The material should be available as per the requirement of the customer. The customer should not be required to keep unnecessary stocks. The pressure on his inventory must be less. Lean management of manufacturers should help their customers with increased efficiency.

  • Perfection – All the above steps are needed in perfect synchronization with each other. They become effective when there is perfection in the approach. Every step should be followed with precision and objectivity to make the system achieve its goal of lean management.

Indian industry has also adopted a lean manufacturing system in its true spirit.

      Lean manufacturing is prevalent in the Indian automobile sector, steel production, and defense production.

     Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could successfully adopt a lean manufacturing system. Implementation of lean will boost the ‘make in India’ initiative of the country.

The process of lean manufacturing is going to stay.

      Lean is adding value to both consumers and manufacturers through waste elimination.  

      The model is environment-friendly.

      By maximizing resource utilization the lean process becomes more sustainable.

      The industry has seen the benefit of the lean process and will continue to focus on this.

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Categories: : Lean Management

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