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LM, or Lean Manufacturing, is a business management technique popular in the world of manufacturing that is used to improve overall efficiency and value by eliminating waste in all of its forms.The elimination of waste will naturally save a business money.But the use of Lean Manufacturing is designed to also improve quality and production time.The customer benefits from the lean manufacturing system by receiving the cost savings that the manufacturer can pass on to the consumer and also by receiving a product that is free from defect or fault, as is the objective of a waste free system.

Lean Manufacturing is all about tackling the waste problem from a company-wide approach.Lean Manufacturing techniques do not pertain only to the production floor but also to common business practices like management techniques.The objective of the manufacturing company is to create what is called a "value stream."A value stream refers to the continuous flow of products and materials that is not burdened by the starts, stops and delays of dealing with waste.Remember that waste can include not only material overflow but also any activity, step, or process that does not ultimately end in providing the customer with value.

Lean Manufacturing concepts are obviously appealing to most manufacturing companies however each company has different levels or degrees at which they commit to running a lean operation.A small town operation not in the manufacturing industry may use lean manufacturing techniques to better control inventory or to find ways to save money by eliminating a few other kinds of waste.On the larger scale, a company like Toyota uses Lean Manufacturing techniques in just about every quadrant of their business and, in the case with Toyota, could even be credited with the development of many of the manufacturing ideas that later became known as "Lean."

Due to the fact that Lean Manufacturing techniques are different in just about every organization that tries to incorporate lean principles, it is difficult to simply come out with a definitive guide on what you would need to do to make your business run in an LM way.But a few common denominators do stand out.Lean manufacturing ideas generally include the following:

  • Reducing waiting time

  • Having"zero inventory"

  • Efficient transportation

  • Moving products

  • Eliminating over production

  • Handling defective products

All of the above mentioned characteristics of a Lean Manufacturing plan involve reducing waste in one form or another.Naturally in order to eliminate waste it is useful that there be a method for identifying such waste.The name that has been assigned to "non-value" or wasteful work is "muda."The process of identifying waste or muda is constantly changing due to the fact that the demands placed on the manufacturing company are ever changing.Whenever demand is changed supply is then affected in order to balance out these effects.Naturally, this change in the workplace production process can lead to downtime and mistakes.It is the process of correction and re-standardizing manufacturing system movement that really defines the effectiveness of the company's lean manufacturing techniques.Adaptation to change can be relatively quick if wastes are identified and plans made for the elimination of such wastes.

There are seven main categories of muda.These clear identifications or definition of work that adds no value to the production process are critical.If the problem cannot be defined, it cannot be corrected.The seven muda include: waste from overproduction, waste from transportation, waste of motion, waste of time/waiting, wasted processing time, inventory and defects.LM is appropriately named because its purpose is to cut away unnecessary baggage that a production process carries and to work solely on what is absolutely necessary to the optimal health of the business.

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