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What is Lean Manufacturing and How is it Implemented?

  • Vrinda Mathur
  • Apr 29, 2022
What is Lean Manufacturing and How is it Implemented? title banner

Lean manufacturing is a production approach that aims to cut down on production time as well as customer and supplier response times. By removing waste, streamlining processes, and lowering expenses, the method strives to boost efficiency. 


By creating only what is needed and without overstocking, the method provides for less waste and lower inventory expenses. The approach boosts productivity and helps raise profitability by lowering production time.



What is Lean Manufacturing?


The application of Lean methods, ideas, and tools to the creation and manufacture of physical items is referred to as Lean Manufacturing. In a fast-paced, dynamic, and ever-changing global economy, many businesses are employing Lean manufacturing concepts to remove waste, improve processes, save costs, enhance innovation, and shorten time to market.


Many people associate "Lean manufacturing" with "waste elimination," and waste elimination is undoubtedly a significant component of any Lean process. However, the ultimate purpose of Lean manufacturing is to give value to customers in a sustainable manner, not just to remove waste.


Lean manufacturing defines waste as everything that does not bring value to the customer in order to reach this aim. This can be a process, activity, product, or service; anything that needs a time, money, or skill commitment but does not provide value to the client is waste. 


According to the Lean definition, idle time, unused talent, excess inventory, and inefficient procedures are all waste. When you don't make full use of all of your resources, you lose efficiency and, as a result, output suffers. 


Many people confuse "Lean manufacturing" with "waste elimination," although waste elimination is absolutely a vital component of any Lean approach. However, the


The purpose of Lean manufacturing isn't only to remove waste; it's to produce consistently. Value to the client Waste, according to the lean concept, is everything that does not bring value to the process. Customers are willing to pay for it.


Also Read | Inventory Management



Types of Waste in Lean Manufacturing


Waste elimination is an important aspect of what Lean manufacturing entails. Eliminating, minimizing, and simplifying work processes are all part of the Lean methodology. There are several forms of waste  in the Lean process that should be removed through continuous improvement.


  1. Excessive production


Overproduction is a sort of waste in Lean manufacturing that occurs when work is produced or generated in excess of demand, resulting in additional expenditures for transportation, resources, waiting time, rework, and so on.


  1. Inventories


Inventory waste refers to excessive overstocking of commodities or resources in order to fulfill unforeseen consumer needs. However, in the vast majority of situations, this inventory results in higher storage costs and little new value for customers.


  1. Movement


Any needless movement of people or equipment that impacts production time, workplace safety, or workplace organization is classified as motion waste. This can involve things like moving, lifting, and reaching.


  1. Errors


Defects are a sort of waste in Lean manufacturing that refers to any product or service that is unfit for use and must be reworked or scrapped entirely. All flaws eventually result in higher expenses and provide no added value to customers.


  1. Excessive Analysis


All excess work that the client does not require is referred to as waste, and it results in higher expenditures and resource consumption. As a result, customers may be unwilling to pay a higher final price. This may be anything as simple as adding a new feature to a product or increasing the number of stages in a procedure.


  1. Waiting


Waiting is a sort of waste in Lean manufacturing that refers to any service that is not in motion: waiting for supplies or suppliers, waiting for equipment to be repaired, personnel waiting for permission, and so on.


  1. Transportation


In Lean manufacturing, transportation waste refers to any unnecessary movement of materials or resources that is expensive, has a poor impact on quality, and adds no value to the end product.


Also Read | Production Management


How to Implement Lean Manufacturing


The phrase Lean manufacturing relates to the optimization of knowledge workers' methods, procedures, and habits, with the goal of working smarter, innovating quicker, and delivering more value to consumers. You've come to the correct spot if you're seeking practical advice on how to adopt Lean manufacturing in your company.


Gaining alignment across the business is the first step toward realizing the benefits of Lean manufacturing — increased efficiency, flexibility, and customer response. These are the actions proposed for any company looking to scale up their Lean manufacturing efforts.


  1. Discover Your Purpose


Teams and organizations typically have a good idea of what they're doing. They know how they do it, but why do they do it? That's a trickier topic to answer, but it's crucial.


Understanding the why behind your behaviors, as Simon Sinek emphasized in his TED presentation, is the single most critical aspect for success in nearly everything - at home, at business, and in life. It's also crucial when implementing a new way of thinking, which is what Lean manufacturing is all about.


Why is your company making this transformation? Is it to re-engage with consumers, become more inventive, achieve profitability, and prosper in the global economy of the future? 


Determine what that reason is for your company (and publicize it widely), and you'll have a far better chance of implementing Lean manufacturing effectively.


  1. Recognize and Respond to Competing Needs


Womack and Jones identified three demands that businesses must understand and address in order to execute Lean production at the enterprise level, based on years of research on Lean manufacturing firms (as well as Lean enterprises in other industries).


  • Individual requirements: Individuals must be able to retain and enjoy their work.


  • Organizational knowledge : Organizational knowledge must be structured by function in order to retain and increase organizational knowledge; nevertheless, agile companies require employees to organize into cross-functional teams.


  • Business requirements: Companies value control over agility / Lean-ness because they need to be able to measure expenses and analyze rewards by activity.


In conventional organizations, meeting all three of these objectives while maintaining a high level of agility is almost impossible; conflicts between the three needs invariably have a detrimental influence on the organization's capacity to be Lean.


  1. Identify a Champion (or Become One)


Adopting a Lean technique might be a risky decision depending on your company's culture. It will cause everyone in the organization to push back, question, and say "No" more often. It may include making unpleasant decisions in the sake of waste reduction. 


A visible, vocal advocate of Lean – someone who will celebrate victories, lead debates, and encourage others to keep going – can be crucial in overcoming the hurdles of cultural transformation.


If your company is adopting Lean from the top down, you'll almost certainly have support for your new, ever-improving behavior. However, if your Lean manufacturing adoption is a grassroots effort, you'll need assistance. 


Keep your executive champion informed to make their work easier: Regularly discuss your learnings, utilize data to indicate progress, share interesting Lean publications, and ask them to standups and retrospectives. 


If you're leading a team, get active and learn everything you can about Lean manufacturing concepts so you can genuinely lead with Lean.


Also Read | Product Life Cycle


  1. Master the Fundamentals


Although the ideas of Lean manufacturing are straightforward, putting them into practice in our complicated, ever-changing work contexts may be difficult. Learning to think, respond, and act in a Lean way necessitates brain retraining–and the Lean approach might appear paradoxical at first.


Reading Lean books to understand theory and concepts can help you strengthen your Lean muscles. Learn about the tools and practices used in Lean manufacturing and put them to use in your own job. 


Host "lunch and learn" and create forums where employees can share their experiences, ask questions, and learn together to promote Lean education in your teams.


Bringing in external Lean coaches to help launch Lean implementations has proven to be a successful strategy for many companies. Workshops may be facilitated by lean coaches, who can also answer questions and give resources.


  1. Create a Value Stream Map


Engage in a value stream mapping activity after you're conversant with Lean manufacturing principles and methods.


A value stream mapping activity is designed to assist you in understanding how value flows across your team and business. Going through the exercise will provide you plenty of chances to have crucial, clarifying talks that will help you start making great changes.


Also Read | Business Metrics


Lean Manufacturing Benefits


Lean project management requires reducing or eliminating waste, however the advantages of lean manufacturing vary depending on who is questioned. Some argue that it is enhancing corporate profit, while others argue that it is exclusively aimed at increasing consumer value and satisfaction. The following are some common benefits

Benefits of Lean Manufacturing:-1. Improve Quality2. Inventory Management3. Process Improvement4. Waste5. Reduce Time

Lean Manufacturing Benefits


  1. Improve Quality: In order to remain competitive, businesses must adapt to changing client desires and needs. As a result, processes must be structured to satisfy their needs and expectations. Quality improvement may be made a priority by using overall quality management.


  1. Inventory Management: Lean manufacturing minimizes extra inventory by using the just-in-time production approach, which lowers costs and prevents production difficulties.


  1. Process Improvement: The "continuous improvement" lean philosophy ensures that lean manufacturing processes are always enhanced. This necessitates the use of value stream mapping.


  1. Waste: This has a negative impact on prices, timelines, and resources. It depletes a product or service's value without contributing anything to it. A lean manufacturing system can produce better products at lower costs by eliminating waste.


  1. Reduce Time: As the cliche goes, time is money, and spending time is wasting money. This is particularly true in the industrial sector. By increasing efficiency, reducing the time it takes to start and conclude a project adds value. Learn and put some time management techniques to use.


  1. Reduce Total Costs: When a corporation does not waste time, resources, or staff on unproductive tasks, money is saved. Overproduction raises the cost of storage and warehousing. The first step in understanding cost management is to comprehend the triple constraint.


Also Read | Production Management


Lean manufacturing is a form of production that focuses on lowering time in the production system as well as reaction times from suppliers and consumers. The method is used by businesses to boost efficiency. 


It decreases inventory costs and waste while increasing efficiency and profit by accepting products just as needed for the manufacturing process. The disadvantage is that it needs companies to precisely estimate demand since the gains might be negated by modest supply chain delays. 


It may also have a detrimental influence on workers as a result of increased stress and restrictive working conditions. A company's success is dependent on consistent outputs, high-quality procedures, and dependable sources.


Every Lean manufacturing deployment is unique; some start from the ground up, while others begin from the top down. Some include all aspects of a company's operations, while others are restricted to manufacturing-related departments.


The concepts of Lean manufacturing, by providing the framework to keep teams focused on efficiency and flow, not only help teams perform better, but they also make manufacturing businesses more appealing places to work for bright engineers.


We always advise that any Lean manufacturing adoption be done gradually and deliberately. Failed Lean implementations are nearly usually the result of a lack of knowledge of the fundamentals.


However, if you can unite around your why and then spread Lean thinking and concepts throughout your business, you'll have everything you need to start a successful Lean manufacturing implementation.

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