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How to better train your employees on lean manufacturing standards

Waste in a manufacturing plant is the number one source of revenue loss.Of course, companies cannot just "eat" the cost of waste so the cost is passed onto the customers in a lose-lose situation.Toyota has developed some standards of "lean manufacturing" which you might use to reduce waste in your manufacturing plant.

To impart the principles of lean manufacturing to your employees, you should probably send at least the department heads to a seminar or conference that features the principles of lean manufacturing.Those employees who attend the seminars can form a training committee and bring the training home to the base level employees in your company.

If you cannot afford to send your employees to a seminar, you can pattern an in-service training after the Toyota model.What Toyota initially did was to determine the seven places where they were experiencing the most waste.What Toyota came up with was the "seven deadly wastes".For Toyota, these wastes were:
- Overproduction (or producing more of the product than there was a demand for)
- Transportation costs that were not directly related to sell of the product
- Waiting (or downtime when the old product had run out but the new product had not arrived)
- Inventory problems (where the finished product was not always realized because of inventory concerns)
- Motion (all instances of people or equipment making useless movements)
- Defects (the problems associated with inspecting for defects and also replacing defective parts to the consumer)

In your seminar talk about the seven deadly wastes that Toyota came up with.Next, talk about the deadly wastes that are specific to your manufacturing plant.Your company will probably share all or most of the wastes discussed by Toyota but you should also have some wastes that are unique to your company.Brainstorm together with your management team to determine how you can best combat these wastes.

You might also go over some of the principles that Toyota came up with to fight the seven deadly wastes.Before going over the principles put forward by Toyota, try to get your staff to offer their own ideas.With any luck, you will be able to use both the ideas generated by your staff and the principles generated by Toyota to formulate your own strategy to combat work place waste.

Once you have a strategy, each department head should do in-service training with their staff to see that the solutions are put in place.You may want to monitor all waste as a feedback method during training.You might also want to do things like video tape employees in motion to determine where excess motions can be cut out of day-to-day tasks in your manufacturing plant.

Finally, one of the best ways to teach is by example.As the owner or manager of a manufacturing plant, your example will be the best way to show your employees the standards that you want to set for the company.Having department heads present themselves as a good example is another way of insuring on-going training as well as a commitment to lean manufacturing on the part of all employees.

Lean manufacturing is an involved strategy.Don't expect to see big changes all at once.You might want to start with working on only one source of waste at a time.Once you have a handle on that source of waste, look at the next source.By hacking at your problems one-by-one you may get the most effective results without having to expect too much too soon out of your employees.

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