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Converting to a lean process

Lean manufacturing is used to help companies eliminate waste. Several manufacturing companies have implemented lean manufacturing or another process known as Six Sigma. The best option for any company is to use lean manufacturing in conjunction with Six Sigma. While lean manufacturing will help you eliminate wastes, Six Sigma will help you improve your current processes. If you would like to convert to a lean process, here are some ways to get started.

Get everyone on board. While lean manufacturing may seem like a management decision, it is actually a company-wide decision. Everyone needs to sit down and discuss the benefits and disadvantages of implementing lean manufacturing. Create a checklist of all the employee comments and review it with everyone. Come up with some ideas as to how the employees think they could change the current production and make it faster and more reliable. Always keep in mind that lean manufacturing is a company-wide change and it will impact everyone at the organization, not just the CEOs.

Now you need to select which type of lean manufacturing will suit your company needs. The 5 S Methodology and the 7 wastes are two of the most-popular lean manufacturing methodologies. Both focus on the Toyota Production System (TPS) method of eliminating waste and improving the quality of the workplace.

Once you make the decision to convert to a lean process, pick your managers. Each department should have one person that will represent their team and report to management. These individuals will be in charge of helping their workers grasp the concept of lean manufacturing and they will hold meetings to discuss different ways to improve their jobs. Lean manufacturing is a long-term approach to fixing the problems within the company so it is important to follow-up with your employees about lean manufacturing to make sure they are doing it properly.

Lean manufacturing not only works to fit the demands of the customer, but it strives to give them a quality product. Creating a new pricing structure and delivery schedule could increase your customer satisfaction ratings. This is a simple thing to do and it will not take a lot of time out of your employee's schedule. Have a team compare your prices and delivery schedule to your competitors. Always try to remain competitive by staying up-to-date with the products and services your competitors are offering.

Take a look at your current manufacturing processes and start identifying the wastes. Are your employees repeating processes? Are there things you can eliminate? Do your machines perform reasonably? Do you have long cycle times? Are your suppliers able to keep up with your demands?Try to look at every aspect of your company and start looking for ways to reduce waste.

Lean manufacturing means you are constantly looking at ways to eliminate waste from your company. According to Toyota, there are 10 common forms of waste, they are as follows:

  1. Inaccurate product documentation and recording
  2. Backorders or items waiting in queue
  3. Inventory failures
  4. Poor decision making
  5. Mistakes and human errors that need fixing
  6. Overproduction
  7. Changeover
  8. Duplication
  9. Loss of materials due to unnecessary moves
  10. Products that do not live up to the expectations of the customer

Companies that have successfully implemented lean manufacturing will see a 30-60 percent reduction in waste. They will easily spot problems and fix them before they become costly. Effective execution of lean manufacturing is more than just a management change; it is a complete company-wide mindset change. Employees need to constantly look for ways to improve the way they work and they need to report changes that should be made in the current processes.

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