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What production leveling has to do with lean manufacturing

Improving flow through production leveling is one component of leanmanufacturing, which is an approach to manufacturing that strives to improve productivity and quality by cutting down on waste in all different aspects of the manufacturing process.Lean manufacturing first surfaced in Japan as a process management philosophy from Toyota Production System, also known as TPS.It strives to improve customer value by reducing a number of different wastes.Lean manufacturing can also be used in conjunction with the six sigma approach to management and manufacturing because lean manufacturing works on cutting down on waste and six sigma works on reducing variations in the processes of manufacturing or providing services.

One way that lean manufacturing works to reduce waste, and even eliminate waste if possible from manufacturing processes and service processes is by improving the flow of work through the manufacturing system, instead of just focusing on eliminating waste.There are several different approaches to improving the flow of products by leveling production by means of what are called Kanban and the Heijunka box.

The way that improving flow helps your manufacturing is by exposing quality problems which have always been there but haven't been noticed.As you improve the flow and expose quality problems, then you naturally have waste reduction as a natural consequence of improving your flow.Improving flow rather than just focusing on waste reduction is a system wide approach to lean manufacturing that can help you improve the entire company rather than just certain aspects of manufacturing.

One aspect of improving flow is through what is known as pull processing.Pull processing means that products are pulled from what is known as the consumer end when they need to be used, rather than pushed from the production end, which is the supply. Load leveling and production flow are used in order to reduce fluctuations in product flow.These fluctuations in product flow actually increase the waste produced in manufacturing because the process capacity of your manufacturing processes always have to be ready for peak production.If there is no idea what the process flow is going to be, then you always have to be ready for the highest possible flow of production process.

Overall, the purpose of lean manufacturing is to get the right things in your manufacturing processes-or your service processes-to the right place at the right time in the right amount.By doing so, then the flow of your processes will be optimized and the waste in your processes-from the material wasted to the time wasted by employees-will be minimized.By leveling your production you will improve your flow because you will have the same amount of production at all times.The more variations you have in your production flow, the more inefficient and wasteful your production will be, so by leveling the amount of production, then you will improve the flow of materials through your production processes.Eliminating waste-or at least reducing it-by having level production and good production flow passes higher quality and better prices on to your customers, and it helps you improve your profit and your bottom line because you aren't wasting resources and time and money having to replace machines earlier because they are always running at full capacity.Production leveling is just one aspect of lean manufacturing, but it can be one of the most successful aspects because it improves the flow of production, whether you are manufacturing goods or providing services.

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