Lean manufacturing is a new approach to manufacturing that emerged slowly over hundreds of years.
It allows a factory to cut costs by reducing waste. This hunt for waste does not include only unnecessary steps, but also defects and waiting times.
The result is an operation that is performing at a higher level than its competitors, not only regarding costs control but also quality, lead times, and minimum order quantities.
The most famous engineer associated with lean manufacturing is Taiichi Ohno, who ran countless experiments at Toyota from the 1950s to the 1970s, and put together a superior production system.
As he wrote, “all we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value added wastes.”
How Can a Manufacturer Reap the Benefits of Lean?
- It should focus a lot of efforts on simplifying the flow of materials and information.
- It should improve its processes and train its people in the new philosophy of work.
Naturally, the factory will have a priority (typically, cost or quality), and specific steps should be advised by experienced consultants based on the current condition of operations.
However, the logic to follow is relatively constant. See how to reap the benefits of lean manufacturing.