Originating from an article written in 1988, the term “lean production” was first used to describe a manufacturing process that involves improvement of processes and minimizing costs. Some of the modern branches of lean ideology include the six sigma method that has brought considerable impacts to the manufacturing industry.
The main idea behind lean production ideology incorporates several principles and several goals. The goals include reduction of effort, minimizing production costs, reduction of waste, and minimization of production defects while maintaining the same levels of productivity.
Although the rules and guidelines of lean are mostly learned through a book or a lecture, the primary task is in implementation. Many organizations find it to be easier to send employees to train in lean manufacturing practices and then rely on them to implement the practices. A more effective way to approach the implementation of lean processes would be to bring in a professional or company who specializes in implementation and can facilitate the process for the entire organization at all levels.
What lean does in an organization is eliminate all waste – such as unnecessary costs and down time – and increase efficiency by streamlining production processes to ensure optimal production at cut costs. For organizations looking to increase revenues and improve the production process, adoption of lean manufacturing should be one of their goals. For many organizations, introduction of lean manufacturing into their production process could lead to a significant boost. Here are four ways implementing lean workflow initiatives could improve manufacturing processes for your organization:
1. Simplified manufacturing tasks
The primary driving factor for waste reduction and increased efficiency is simplification of manufacturing tasks. No matter the path taken, waste reduction is not achievable if the manufacturing tasks remain complicated. In addition to time wasted, complex manufacturing can lead to inconsistencies and lower quality. The primary goal of lean when it comes to manufacturing is to streamline the production tasks to improve efficiency and quality.
2. Improved organization
Simplification of tasks is enhanced by increased organization. The lean method helps to organize tasks and processes on the production floor to improve the workflow efficiency. Order on the manufacturing floor increases employee safety and cuts down on time wasted in set up. Employees are more productive when their tasks are laid out and all tools needed are easily accessed. For organizations, a well-organized manufacturing floor leads to increased space and cleanliness, instilling enthusiasm to the working force. For food processing companies, cleanliness is easier to maintain and helps firms stay in line with government health regulations and guidelines. Use of visual aids such as job allocation boards increases organization of workflow and streamline the production process.
3. Reduced errors
In manufacturing, mistakes are inevitable, leading to defective products and wasted resources. It doesn’t matter what level of automation is in an organization, errors can happen. Lean manufacturing works towards advanced error reduction with lean six sigma training that teaches employees principles that will positively impact the production process and reduce errors incurred due to untrained labor. Along with the training, machinery and tasks are assigned to specific members of the workforce. Limiting the number of individuals assigned to machinery and tasks limits errors and waste.
4. Cross training of employees
One of the principles involved in the lean method is cross training employees, which leads to increased benefits like greater flexibility in the manufacturing process. Training exposes the employees to different departments in the company to get a clear idea of the whole process. In turn, employees feel free to innovate and be creative and find new ways to improve the manufacturing process. Allowing employees to cross train promotes growth on an individual level as well as increased innovation and company morale, creating lower turnover, lower costs, and increased revenues.
These are just a few of the changes that can be made to move your organization toward leaner production and on a path of growth. Unstoppable Software has worked with many manufacturing organizations in various stages of lean production, using software solutions to achieve their goals. If your organization in looking to implement lean strategies, and you are unsure where to start, let us help! Contact us for more information.