Tips to Lean on for Becoming Lean
Lean manufacturing is the goal every shop strives to achieve. But unlike earning a diploma or completing a marathon, it is not a one-time success story. Lean manufacturing is an ongoing process that is vital to the future of a successful manufacturing business. In other words, “The manufacturer that wants to grow ought to consider going lean” (from “Going Lean in Order to Grow”). The shop featured in this article made improvements in several areas of its business to achieve lean. Here’s what I learned.
First, becoming lean may require rearranging equipment into cells and/or purchasing some new, more efficient equipment. This might include shop management software, quality systems or machine tools and accessories.
Also, understanding your customers and the industries in which they focus can help foresee current customer needs. Thinking about new capabilities for your shop and focusing on the additional work your customers might demand in the future can only improve growth within your company.
Cross-training employees is another way to lean manufacturing, as well as encouraging employees to move up the corporate ladder.
Last, technology within the company should continue to advance, and the facility’s size should grow with the company.
For more information about how to achieve lean manufacturing, read “Going Lean in Order to Grow.”
Or here’s an example of one shop that started the journey toward achieving lean manufacturing by grasping the shop’s situation, observing the current processes and listening to the team on the shop floor. To read about this lean manufacturing success story, visit “How VIBCO Achieved Lean."
And finally, “Running Remotely” features a one-man shop. Talk about lean!
Each day, organizations face challenges to become lean within their shops. Often, the focus of these lean activities is not extended to our management practices. Problem-solving methodology is one such management practice where simplicity is sometimes ignored.
Visual management has been and will continue to be a key driver in the manufacturing world. Lean principles are predicated on visual activities. 5S — the building block of all lean activities — is based on the motto, "A place for everything and everything in its place." Cellular manufacturing focuses on isolating machinery and tools within an area of the plant in order to increase efficiency. Alarms, flashing lights and other poka-yoke techniques are visual assurances of compliance in work cells.
With self-directed work teams, each team of workers is given full responsibility for their work orders—scheduling them and making sure they have the necessary materials to complete the job.