Lean manufacturing is the most trending buzzword in the manufacturing industry which is aimed at efficient use of resources to generate high-quality products. Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement philosophy which was conceptualized by Kaizen or Toyota Production System. It is the same concept that helped Toyota to compete with the US car industry post-WWII period. The concept seeks to implement business processes that deliver high-quality results while maintaining worker safety and morale and also lowering cost and shortening lead times. Lean manufacturing can significantly improve the efficiency of the manufacturing industry and thereby reduce the production cost. Here are five principles of lean manufacturing that will help the manufacturing industry implement lean techniques.
Value of the product always refers to customer’s need for a specific product. For a long time, companies have been producing goods on the basis of what they think is the best, losing vision of customers being the end-user. As a result, if you want to design the best product, it should always start with finding ways to determine what customers actually want in the first place. They need to understand the customer needs in terms of product functionality, ease of use, and pricing. Players in the manufacturing industry can use tools and techniques such as brainstorming, market gaps identification, consumer research, and quality function deployment to identify various needs of the customers. Subsequently, companies should only engage in activities that improve the value of their product to the customers.
Map the value stream
After assessing what value the customers’ want, the next step is to map the value stream. Companies will have to map all the steps and processes involved in converting raw material into the finished product. In order to abide by the principles of lean management, companies should find the most suitable raw material and engage in adding value to each step and dissolve processes that don’t add value. To simplify things, managers can start out by drawing each step on a page as a map depicting the flow of materials and products through the process.
Create inventory flow
After identifying and removing waste from the value stream, it is important to ensure smooth flow of operations without any delays, interruptions, or bottlenecks. These value-creating steps should occur in tight sequences to ensure a smooth flow till the final product delivery to the customers. Employees must get rid of silo thinking and put in cross-functional efforts across all departments. Cross-functional efforts ensure smooth flow of operations even when employees are reshuffled across departments.
Establish value pull
With improved inventory flow, time to market can be drastically improved. This lean manufacturing principle requires players in the manufacturing industry to set out ways which make customers demand the product rather than pushing the product to them. Simply put, if the product was not designed to suit the customer’s needs, then companies will have a hard time persuading the customer to purchase the products. This saves company time and money as products doesn’t need to be created in advance or material stockpiled.
Achieving perfection is the ultimate goal of the lean manufacturing principle. Manufacturers should always focus on perfecting their products by attaining perfection in each value creation steps and removing waste. Businesses should strive to deliver the product within the designated time and employ continuous improvement tools like Kaizen to achieve perfection.
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