How to Supercharge Your Lean Efforts
Modern technology has created new ways that assist you in maximizing the results from your lean efforts. Back in the mid-1900s, Toyota invented the Toyota Production System (TPS). This process emphasized a set of manufacturing principles that are still very relevant today. Now, this process is more commonly referred to simply as lean manufacturing. Although the principles haven’t changed over time, the way that we follow them has. Thanks to modern technology, you can supercharge your lean efforts and see results much faster than before.
Why Lean Manufacturing is About Subtraction, Not Addition
Lean manufacturing is not about adding any more machines or more people to the plant floor. It takes a different approach to improve processes and gain more production in the same amount of time. It’s really all about subtraction, it’s about elimination.
Eliminate scrap, eliminate waste, eliminate excess inventory, and eliminate nonvalue-adding movement. Lean manufacturing is centered around improving and perfecting your current process. You would be hard-pressed to find an industry with more movement than manufacturing. Tons of operators and employees working on the plant floor at any given time, numerous machines and equipment spread all across the plant floor that needs to be producing constantly.
The large volume of people and equipment makes all wasted movement and material add up extremely quickly. It gets expensive fast and eats into companies’ profits. That’s why lean manufacturing is so very important. At Ectobox, we like to say- “Learn how to do more with what you already have.” By implementing lean practices throughout your processes, you can do exactly that.
5 Steps to Successful Lean Manufacturing
In order to do more with what you already have, you will need to follow these 5 steps.
- Define Value
- Map the Value Stream
- Create Flow
- Establish Pull
- Pursue Perfection
Value is whatever someone is willing to pay for something. Take the time to discover what your customers actually need and want. Sometimes customers won’t know exactly what they need, then it becomes your job to find out. Once you do find out, you can then determine what they want, how much, when, and what fits their price range.
Map the Value Stream
Once you have defined value, use that as your reference point. The next step is to review and diagram the flow of product through your plant and document the processes (manual and automated) that are executed. Then, evaluate them- determine if each activity is adding to your defined value or not. If an activity is not adding value, that activity is considered waste. You can separate these activities into nonvalue-add but necessary, and nonvalue-add and unnecessary. The unnecessary activities should be completely eliminated, the nonvalue-add but necessary activities should be reduced as much as possible.
Avoid delays and interruptions. Make sure your employees are skilled and adaptive, break down each step, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. In doing so, you can keep production smooth and consistent.
One of the biggest wastes in any production system is inventory. A pull-based system is meant to limit inventory as much as possible while ensuring that the materials needed are available right at the time you need them. This in effect, limits waste while also keeping a smooth workflow.
Make Lean thinking and continuous improvement a part of your company culture. Strive for perfection, and don’t stop until you get there. Be proactive about developing a better organization and constantly find ways to improve efficiency.
The Key to Supercharging Your Lean Efforts Today
The key to supercharging your lean efforts is to take advantage of modern manufacturing intelligence systems. Remember that lean isn’t about adding, it’s about current process improvement. What’s the first step here? How do you get started? By tracking those processes. Tracking manufacturing processes in the most efficient, credible, and detailed way is the first step to getting the most out of your lean efforts.
How Industry 4.0 makes Lean Manufacturing Twice as Valuable
Gone are the days of manually recording data, or at least they should be.
The Toyota production process was invented during Industry 2.0- the revolution that brought assembly lines and mass production. Then soon after, we saw Industry 3.0- computerized and automated machines. Today, we are in Industry 4.0- data and the automation of business processes.
Physically, factories look generally the same as they did in Industry 3.0. The key difference is data. Modern Industry 4.0 systems grant manufacturers the ability to gather, contextualize, and analyze data that was never attainable before. We sometimes like to refer to this as “the hidden factory.”
When you think about it, lean is not really about manufacturing itself. Lean is about the business decisions made that improve the efficiency of a manufacturing process.
Combining lean thinking with Industry 4.0 technology, and utilizing both to drive better decision-making is a recipe for success.
Unlock the Hidden Factory
Unlock the hidden factory with a modern manufacturing intelligence solution such as an IIoT or MES system for the plant floor. Gain insights on downtime, product changeovers, operator changeovers, production schedules, scrap, and much more. Unlock the ability to track every person, every movement, process, and machine within the 4 walls of the plant floor. Use real-time data to make quick decisions that reduce waste and improve process efficiency.
Systems with these capabilities expedite lean manufacturing practices and take them to another level.
The Ultimate Manufacturing Tag-Team
Lean practices + modern manufacturing intelligence solutions = the ultimate manufacturing tag team.
When you combine following the principles and ideas that promote reducing waste, adding value, and creating the most efficient environment possible with a system that provides you with deep, detailed, accurate sets of real-time data to quickly make decisions and adjustments- you’re putting yourself in a great spot. Positioning yourself for company growth and success now and in the future.