Lean manufacturing is a means of minimizing waste by eliminating methods that are not valuable to the production process. This process helps companies increase efficiency and product quality while reducing overall costs.
Through this guide, we’ll discuss the principles of lean manufacturing and the various wastes this process reduces.
The concept of lean manufacturing was made popular by Toyota’s operating model, The Toyota Way, also known as the Toyota Production System. Five primary principles of lean manufacturing were derived from this model and are now used as a basis for implementing this production process.
You can use the following lean principles in manufacturing to better inform your understanding of this groundbreaking method:
The primary aim of lean manufacturing is to add value to the end user. This concept is determined by how much customers are willing to pay for your products and services. You can identify what consumers value most through methods like surveys and interviews and determine whether your solutions meet those expectations.
Providing customers with the highest value requires your company to design products that meet their needs while removing any features that do not. This process eliminates any wasteful steps that may produce unnecessary or unwanted product features.
The term “value stream” refers to a product’s complete life cycle, which encompasses its design, use and disposal. According to this lean manufacturing principle, any disruptions in the value stream will result in waste.
You can keep the value stream moving and minimize waste through value mapping. This process requires manufacturers to visually plot out their complete product flow. Once finished, they can pinpoint any steps that do not provide value to their customers.
There are two primary types of waste within the value stream — non-value added but necessary and non-value added and unnecessary. Any instances of the former should be reduced as much as possible, while the latter should be eliminated from the production process entirely.
After eliminating waste from the value stream comes optimizing flow. The concept of flow in the lean manufacturing process is about creating a value chain with no disturbances in production, where each activity is fully in sync with the others.
You can streamline flow in your manufacturing processes through various methods, such as organizing the production floor, creating cross-functional departments, evenly dispersing the workload and reconfiguring production steps.
For example, mother-daughter carts allow workers to efficiently transport products across the warehouse while eliminating the need for forklifts. Implementing this equipment into your facility is an excellent way to increase flow by reducing time and manpower requirements while increasing productivity.
Inventory is one of the biggest sources of waste in a production system. Rather than employing traditional manufacturing tactics where companies produce goods based on forecast, lean manufacturing suggests that products only be manufactured when a customer orders them. This method, referred to as the pull approach, ensures that all solutions are made at the right time and in the right amount. This concept is known as just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing.
The pull-based approach controls the flow of materials within a production system, eliminating the risk of overproduction and underproduction. This strategy results in greater output, reduced inventories, minimal errors and maximum usable workspace. Maintaining flow remains essential during this phase, so many producers use solutions such as roller racks, also called flow cells, to help streamline processing and inventory management.
Lean manufacturing strives for perfection, which requires companies to continuously assess and improve their practices to optimize waste elimination. This principle of lean manufacturing calls for a change in the workplace culture to encourage employees to pursue perfection. When every worker aims to enhance business practices through incremental change, you can expect better results for your company.
The goal of lean principles in manufacturing is maximizing value while minimizing waste. There are seven primary waste types that lean manufacturing aims to eliminate:
If you’re looking to incorporate lean principles into your manufacturing process, consider purchasing material handling products from King Materials Handling. Investing in our cutting-edge solutions means experiencing the best possible durability, quality and warranties from top manufacturers.
Contact us today to learn more about our material handling solutions!