When it comes to running a lean manufacturing operation – a regularly overview of lean manufacturing processes should be done in order to update and challenge current processes.

For the most effective results – begin with a brief review of long-held beliefs about lean processes which usually include:

  • Eliminating unnecessary work
  • Arranging what’s left in the best possible order
  • Ensuring that the right methods are being used

Part of being lean is implementing best practices in an organization.  Yet sometimes there are common challenges to implementing lean practices such as:

  • Skill sets and tools needed to drive implementation are not on hand or in-house
  • Bottom-line might not immediately increase
  • No “C” level support

The definition of lean manufacturing is broad. It generally relates to the best processes and practices – those that optimize resources while yielding the best products as fast-as-possible and for the lowest cost.

Doing It Right Every Time the First Time

Lean manufacturing is also used as an over-arching term for goals such as:

  • Complete quality management
  • Continual improvement
  • No defects

The focus of the goal continues to be – doing things correctly the first time – and doing it right each time over and over again and again.

The accomplishment of true lean manufacturing is never an instant transition – nor is it an extension of traditional thinking or techniques.

The revolutionary nature of this thought process requires abandonment of some old paradigms. Thinking lean is to switch from internally focused-thinking to externally-focused thinking.

Lean, Just-In-Time and Agile Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing has often been called “just-in-time,” or Agile Manufacturing. This is due to operating strategies that seek the maximization of operational effectiveness by increasing value in the eyes of your end product buyer.

The focus isn’t placed onto a department, area, or process. It is placed on the optimization of a complete value stream. This series of processes span from the receipt of a customer order to the delivery of a finished product.

Lean manufacturing improves operating performance. It accomplishes this by focusing on the fast, unhindered flow of materials and products through your value-stream.

This is achieved through various forms of manufacturing-waste that must be identified and eliminated. Waste, (Muda), can include any activity, step or process that doesn’t add value for the end customer!

Highest Quality, Lowest Cost, Shortest Span-of-Time

Utilizing this system means your plant and its processes are highly customer-focused. This leads to providing the highest quality at the lowest possible cost for products delivered in the least amount of time.

In the latest edition of their book Lean Thinking, authors James P. Womack and Daniel Jones reveal that lean thinking can be summarized with five main points:

1) Precision specific values by product
2) Identification of the value-stream for every product
3) Making the value flow without interruption
4) Allowing customers to pull value from the producer
5) Pursuit of perfection

Womack and Jones seem to believe that if managers were to apply these concepts collectively – they would reap the benefit of lean manufacturing techniques that would significantly improve their product’s competitive edge.

Defining VALUE

Value is usually defined by the customer. The definition is only meaningful when expressed as a specific product – one that meets the customers’ needs at a specific price and time.

A common error producers have made is to internally define value. When customers don’t respond – they will add more bells and whistles, or adjust the price.

Rethink value from the perspective of the customer. Lean manufacturing thinking must ignore existing assets and technologies while rethinking the business from product-lines using strong, dedicated product teams.

Lean is a journey and continuous improvement the culture of any world class organization.

Continuous improvement or further increasing production flow efficiencies, never, never, never ends. Most production units and their production flow layouts are the result of organic growth over time, during which the products have experienced many changes, tweaks, affecting the equipment on the production floor. The correct application of predetermined time standards by trained analysts breaks down production tasks in small elements, “tweaking.” Many companies generate their own standard data from this process.

Training teams in predetermine time standard utilizing PDTS a that is easy to understand and simple to use can significantly contribute to your continuous improvement and optimization of timed-task performance utilization delivering even greater efficiencies.