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Lean Implementation: Featured Article

Lean manufacturing was developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is known as lean manufacturing.

Toyota defines waste as being three-fold; muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation related to scheduling. Your operations department will be in change of scheduling the quality and volume of products as they are related to the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

Muda has 7 different kinds of variables that will help to eliminate or reduce the production of waste.

  1. Over-production

  2. Waiting

  3. Transporting

  4. Inappropriate Processing

  5. Unnecessary Inventory

  6. Unnecessary/Excess Motion

  7. Defects

The idea behind lean manufacturing is not only to reduce waste but to get the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity. During this process the Lean Manufacturing system also strives to achieve perfect work flow while minimizing waste and being flexible to change. Successful implementation of lean manufacturing will lead to cost reduction and provide a safer working environment.

How do you being implementing Lean Manufacturing?
As you begin implementing lean manufacturing, you should start by setting up a checklist and review it often. Product design can be cut in half with a few brainstorming sessions that improve overall company cost and performance. Lean Manufacturing also requires the use of an effective, efficient leader. Lean Manufacturing focuses on a complete cultural change to your business. Toyota has used a system of coaching and guiding series to help the less experienced companies become proficient in their division.

Helpful Resources:
Taichii Ohno (Creator of Lean Manufacturing)
This web site provides information on lean manufacturing and how Taichii Ohno created it for Toyota. It is an excellent web site if you want to learn about the wastes identified by many companies including individuals like Henry Ford and Eli Whitney.

Wikipedia provides an excellent definition of lean manufacturing. They provide you with extensive background information and how manufacturing companies have implemented lean manufacturing to reduce costs and eliminate waste.

Toyota Production System
This company specializes in providing lean manufacturing training to your business. You can review all the different options of lean manufacturing such as the 5S approach, the Toyota Production System, and visual control.

Lean Manufacturing Enviroment
This is a great web site on how you can create a lean manufacturing environment in the workplace. They give you handy tips on how you can do this and provide scenarios on how lean manufacturing can be effective.

Definition of the 5 S
This web site discusses the 5 S Methodology to use in lean manufacturing. It provides a definition of each of the 5 `S' letters and discusses how you can implement them into your business to reduce waste and costs.

5 S Methodology
This article discusses the 5 S Methodology. It provides a brief definition of the 5 S Methodology and how to implement it in your business. You can also contact this company for consulting help with the 5 S Methodology.

Lean Manufacturing Training
This company focuses on providing lean manufacturing training to companies. You can browse through several packages to determine which type of training will work best for your company to implement lean manufacturing.

Eliminating Waste
This is a lean manufacturing company. They provide you with a brief overview about lean manufacturing and how they can help your company eliminate waste. You can contact them via internet or telephone.

Rockford Consulting
This is an excellent definition of lean manufacturing. You can learn about the seven types of waste and what companies are doing to reduce waste. Rockford Consulting will also provide you with a third-party approach to reducing waste.

Implementing Lean Manufacturing
This is a quick definition of lean manufacturing. It provides excellent information about lean manufacturing, the seven wastes, how you can successfully implement lean manufacturing and how lean manufacturing can help your company.

Everyone involved in Senior Management must want lean manufacturing. The Senior Management members need to be totally committed to lean manufacturing to support its projects that will be passed down. After the minds of all the Senior Mangers have been changed, you will need to communicate the new vision of the company to all the employees. Management needs to have several brainstorming sessions to appoint a leader over the entire project that will generate a set of lean principles.

Your project leader must be capable of being able to function at different levels and demonstrate the necessary skills to everyone at the company. The project leader should be someone who is an excellent communicator and is persuasive, charismatic, and has the goals of the company in their decision making process at all times.

After the project leader has been decided upon, you need to create a team of people from all different parts of the company. Interview the workforce and inform everyone what is involved and ask for volunteers. The best candidates for the lean manufacturing team include individuals who are directly affected by lean manufacturing and come from different departments but are able to inter-relate with other departments. Your team should consist of about 5-7 people from different departments.

Once the team is assembled, it is time to train the team in lean manufacturing techniques. This is a critical step in the entire process because improper training will lead to unsuccessful results. Hire a professional lean manufacturing company to help you get started in the training process and be sure everyone on the team receives proper training and is certified at the end of the training.

You need to pick the type of lean manufacturing you would like to implement. There are several to choose from including the 7 wastes and the 5 S Methodologies. The 5 S methodology derives from five Japanese words that begin with the letter S. The 5 S Methodology was created to simplify your work environment, reduce waste and improve safety, quality, and efficiency.

The five words are:

  1. Sort (Seiri)

  2. Set in Order (Seiton)

  3. Sweep (Seiso)

  4. Standardize (Seiketsu)

  5. Sustain (Shitsuke)

Several large companies have implemented the 5S's. It has been adopted into several companies in the hope to improve the overall performance and productivity of the business.

Some of the results these companies achieved are as follows:

  • A reduction in call time and training cycles.

  • - A reduction in stored parts inventory.

  • - Improved productivity, morale, levels of quality, and safety.

  • - A reduction in incident rates.

  • - A reduction in machine downtime.

Quite often the 5S's have been implemented with the Toyota Production System or Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing.

Once you select the methodology you would like to use, you will train your team. Select an area where you can to a test run of the program. For example, if you are using the 5 S methodology, select an area where you can run a pilot project, be sure the manager of this are is enthusiastic because the 5 S methodology is about cleaning and organizing. The pilot project cannot be allowed to fail so make sure you are picking an area that is easy and will give you instant results.

After the pilot project has been successfully running for about 3-6 months, it is time to implement the program to the rest of the organization. Implement lean manufacturing throughout the various departments where your team comes from and you will obtain a `ripple' effect throughout the entire company and will be on your way to lean manufacturing success.

Your managers need to be taught that they need to support their staff members if lean manufacturing is going to succeed. If your managers are telling them how to do their jobs and not supporting them, the motivation of an employee will decline. Management needs to take time to walk the shop floors and see how they can help their employees do their jobs and support them as their employees learn to implement lean manufacturing.

The most common roadblock in lean manufacturing is the management; mostly senior level managers who fail to properly implement and follow through with lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing needs to be a total commitment from the entire organization and should be a day-to-day process, not just a new approach to business processes that can be practiced at your convenience.

Mangers often try to implement individual elements of lean manufacturing instead of the entire process. Be sure you understand that lean manufacturing is not just a small step; it is a bigger process that involves every department within your company and needs to be adopted by everyone, with every step, not just one step.

If you are concerned about implementing lean manufacturing on your own, here are some consulting companies who can help:

Business Basics, LLC
This is an internet based lean manufacturing company. They have several different "packages" to choose from that will help you implement lean manufacturing into your company.

You can choose from the following selections:

  • The Basics of Kaizen based lean manufacturing.

  • - The Basics of Supply Chain Management.

  • - The Basics of Performance Management

  • - Implementing Lean Six Sigma.

  • - The Basics of Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution.

Lean Manufacturing Guide

This Company provides your business with a complete lean manufacturing training program. They believe in fixing the inventory problems several companies have and they just don't know how to fix them. They also use the Six Sigma approach to determine where your company is now and where you are headed for the future. They also organize the way your company orders and produces products. They believe that your employees are one of the biggest factors in implementing a successful lean manufacturing program. They provide extensive one-on-one training and group training to help your employees become motivated to accept and help implement lean manufacturing.

In the end, it is up to management to motivate everyone at the company to implement and follow-through with lean manufacturing. The success of lean manufacturing lies with the people who practice it. By hiring one of the above companies, they can help you identify the problems within your company and learn how to eliminate or reduce the excess waste. If done properly, lean training is an easy, effective way to ensure the overall success and profitability of your company. No matter what method of lean manufacturing you choose to implement, be sure it is one that fits your company's needs. By contacting an outside firm to help, you will be able to design a lean manufacturing program that is tailored directly to your needs, allowing your company to be on its way to success.

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