Defining Lean Manufacturing And Its 6 Lean Concepts And Tools

In order to understand what exactly lean manufacturing is, you should understand its purpose first, then only you will be able to grasp its motive. Lean, also known as ‘the Toyota Production System serves following purposes:

  • Provide customer satisfaction
  • Understand the value stream
  • Continuously improve

The lean manufacturing aims at fulfilling these two motives while keeping customer satisfaction at its best standards. Everything that a business should ensure is value to the customer; anything else is not at all valuable.

In other words, lean manufacturing principle emphasizes on satisfying customers consistently by providing them ‘what exactly they want’, and ‘when they want’ while eliminating waste through Kaizen – a Japanese word that means, ‘change for the better’ or ‘good change’.

It also encourages providing results through the minimum amount of resources by involving all of the employees in a continual process of improvement.

Some of the motives of lean products can be summarized as:

  • Eliminate waste
  • Minimize inventory
  • Empower workers
  • Design for rapid changeover
  • Partner with suppliers
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement
  • Maximize flow
  • Pull production from customer demand
  • Meet customer requirements
  • Do it right the first time

To know how lean manufacturing can help you maximize the productivity, approach a lean manufacturing consulting firm.

Lean Concepts and Tools

There are many tools and concepts that lean manufacturing concepts comprise of. Each of the concepts has its own set of benefits, and is employed depending upon the requirements of a manufacturing unit.

Here are six of the most critical ones:

Cellular Manufacturing

This approach emphasizes on arranging all equipment and workstations according to the different processes, located in close proximity to production of a group of similar products. It aims at reducing cycle time and inventories to meet marketing response times.

Takt Time

This is known as the ‘heartbeat’ of the customer. It refers to the average at which a company should manufacture the product or carry out transaction based on the customer’s requirements and working time provided.

Takt = T/D

Where T refers to the Time available for product/service.

D is a demand for the quantity. And T gives information on production pace or units.

Standardized Work

It refers to a process of documented description of methods, materials, tools, and processing times required to meet takt time for any job provided. This approach aids in standardizing the tasks throughout the value stream.

One Piece Flow or Continuous Flow

This approach aims at minimizing the batch size so as to eliminate system constraints. Under this principle, a product or information is produced by moving at a steady pace from one value-added processing step to the next while ensuring no delays.

Pull Systems and Kanban

This approach enables a customer process to signal a supplying process to manufacture a product when it is needed. Kanban is basically the signals used within a pull system through scheduling combined with traveling instruction provided by visual devices such as containers and cards.

Quick Changeover/ SMED

Developed by Shigeo Shingo, it is a 3-stage methodology aimed at reducing the time taken while switching a machine by externalizing and streamlining steps. Shorter changeover times are used to reduce batch sizes and maximize just-in-time.

Quick Changeover reduces the setup time, thereby improving flexibility and responsiveness to customer changes.

Approach a lean manufacturing consulting company to know which tool would be suitable for your manufacturing unit.