Principles Of Lean Manufacturing Every Engineer Should Know
Lean manufacturing is a systematic method where companies steadily decrease their waste generation without sacrificing productivity. It is most common in the engineering and manufacturing sector; however, it is also popular in the healthcare industry and small and medium-sized enterprises to improve inventory management, teamwork, and even client interactions.
Businesses around the world are adopting the techniques of lean manufacturing to decrease production cost and increase quality.
Lean manufacturing principles originated in the Toyota Production System in the early 1990s. The techniques were recognised and analysed by the management of companies across the world and became popular as one of the most effective methods to increase productivity.
It involves a set of lean manufacturing tools implemented with few principles to successfully identify, sort, and eliminate any waste. There are 5 primary lean manufacturing principles, these include –
Identification of a Product’s Value – Value for a particular product is defined by the customer’s demand for it. It is one of the most important steps to manufacture market-specific products. An organisation recognises several key factors like the timeline of production and delivery, requirements, exceptions, and compatibility with the lean manufacturing tools to determine the value.
Creating a Value Stream – Value stream involves recognising and organising all the steps involved to create a finished product. The process generally starts with designing, administration, procurement, production, delivery, and customer service once the end goal (value) is recognised. This principle of documentation, analysing, and improvement of the flow of information is known as mapping or creating a value stream.
Value stream mapping can also include re-engineering existing processes to comply with lean manufacturing principles. It creates a better understanding of the entire business operation and eliminates surplus manufacturing and unnecessary stages.
Create Streamlined Flow – Flow is the uninterrupted movement of essential items like raw materials, labour, finished products, etc. It can also involve the flow of information and product knowledge through the production line. Lean manufacturing aims to create an uninterrupted streamlined flow of essential goods and information throughout the production line. Streamlined flow is also a great way for how companies can save cost with lean manufacturing.
A streamlined flow brings important steps closely and eliminates chances of bottleneck and delays. It maximises value and helps reduce waste. Studies show that a streamlined flow throughout the production line can increase efficiency as much as 50%.
However, improving flow is one of the most challenging aspects of implementing lean manufacturing tools. It can involve a significant overhaul of the infrastructure and might even require installation of a new setup to meet the increasing demand. SMEs and MSMEs often faced financial difficulty to improve the product flow.
This issue has largely been mitigated with the increasing availability of loans from various lenders. Financial institutions including NBFCs offers different types of Business Loans to help companies meet the monetary crunch. These advances come with several borrower-friendly features like attractive interest rates, flexible tenors, large payment options, etc.
Pull – The efficient manufacturing process significantly reduces the warehousing time of raw materials and finished products. It allows customers to pull the products as they require it instead of placing an order according to the manufacturing process. Pull saves money for both the manufacturer and the customer.
Chasing Perfection – Successful implementation of all the above mentioned principles will allow a company to seek perfection in its manufacturing process. The gains earned from lean manufacturing can be utilised to improve the overall manufacturing process to a great extent.
Lean manufacturing is one of the most effective processes to create more value for customers with few resources. Engineers can significantly improve their company’s manufacturing potential if they implement these principals along with lean manufacturing tools.