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Reducing waste with Heijunka

What does Heijunka do to help you create a better manufacturing facility? You often hear about it but it may not be a term that you can immediately recognize. Heijunka is used for reducing waste. Every company has some type of waste and learning how to identify the waste and to remove it is hard for some companies without the right tools and training systems in place. Reducing waste with Heijunka is easy as you will end up using a system that "smoothes" out the kinks in your production line. It is commonly called production leveling and it was created as a component of the Toyota Production System.

Like many other processes you will look at finding a way to produce products for your customers at a predicated or consistent rate. People do not want to wait for their products, they want them as soon as possible. When you use Heijunka you will eliminate things like wasted time and inventory so the products are fresh and delivered on time.

There are issues with inventory as it is a waste. There is no way to know sales and to have a constant manufacturing of your products. You need to look at how you can increase demand but in the meantime you will end up leveling the production out so it is constant but it's not increasing staffing and costs.

What is the waste in your company? Is it the employees or is the equipment? It might be the way that you have created the process in the first place. With so many various elements to worry about you need to look for what is causing waste, which is where Kaizen steps in. You will see issues related to the following:
- Timing
- Quality
- Manufacturing fluctuations
- Process design problems
- Demand issues
- Understaffing

So what Kaizen does is to prevent fluctuations as you have multiple models in the production line.Shortening the amount of products created helps to catch a fluctuation and then you will follow the next model to eliminate those issues. Its different from mass production as its more of a batch production system. The leveling concept comes down to two different methods:
1. Leveling by volume
2. Leveling by product

The volume leveling system is popular as you use batch production. You will have smaller batches like 500-1,000 instead of the larger ordered. This prevents "overburden" from occurring. When you use a small batching approach you will have multiple shipments of raw goods per week or you can end up with a small batch on the slower days of the week and then larger batches toward the end. This is a great way to smooth out the production process so you don't end up with things like too many machines running at the same time and having higher operational costs.

Product leveling is a little different as you will do a sequence mix. What this does is create smaller components, which are often used in many of the products that you sell. When you have these smaller components ready, it reduces changeover times but it also helps you to have a chance to mix together multiple products when the orders come in.

Heijunka is a great system to consider if you would like to reduce waste and to improve the overall efficiency for your organization. Considering the costs of production you can easily see the importance of using Heijunka as it can easily cut down on wasted time and money and will leave your staff happier. Any way in which you can look to benefit your company with production is always a plus! Consider using Heijunka today for a faster, reliable manufacturing plant.

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