To stay ahead in the industry and maintain a competitive edge, many manufacturers have adopted the principles of lean manufacturing into their business model. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy that enforces a series of applied processes and tools that reduce waste while maintaining high-quality operations and products.
Lean principles have the ability to increase production, quality, and efficiency while reducing overall costs and waste. Here are the five principles of lean manufacturing that will help create a smoother production process.
1. Establish the value of your product.
The principle of value is customer-oriented. It is crucial to know what drives customers, what they are willing to pay for and what they value in a business. By placing yourself in the customer’s perspective and understanding what they want and need, you will be able to determine the value of your products and create a competitive and “top-down” target price.
Once a product has an established value, measures can be taken to change up production in order to be as cost-effective as possible. By working toward efficiency and cost-effectiveness, there will be no room for wasted products, materials or time. This new direction of focus will deliver the value that the customer expects at the highest level of profit.
2. Identify the value stream.
The value stream within lean manufacturing refers to the products life-cycle, from raw materials through customer use and eventual disposal. Lean thinkers map these value streams much like a flow chart to analyze delays, inefficiencies and production limitations. After the problem areas are spotted, you can work to eliminate any step, material or feature that does not add any value to the product. This process works to eliminate all waste.
Value stream mapping allows for a manufacturer to see every step and material that goes into a product, and it can be a very eye-opening experience. By being aware of the steps in every production process, it’s easier to spot which steps are beneficial in order to master a process with maximum efficiency. This exercise will result in a better understanding of the manufacturing process and what areas can be improved upon.
3. Create a flow.
After establishing the value of your products and where waste can be eliminated, the next step is to establish a flow of production and make sure that all processes are running smoothly and harmoniously. This will ensure that from the start of production, all the way to handing the product over to the customer, the process is as efficient and productive as possible. The goal is to have every aspect of the manufacturing process working together as one at all times.
4. Pay attention to customer pull.
The principle of “pull” in lean manufacturing creates an on-demand type of production, meaning that products are not manufactured unless requested by the customer. This mode of business will work to eliminate the amount of wasted material since pull focuses on building products as needed, it is not necessary to have a stockpile of material, eliminating the need for extensive inventory and saving your company money in the long run.
5. Aim for perfection.
While perfection is often unrealistic, setting high goals within your manufacturing company will keep everyone on their toes. The principles of lean manufacturing can be easily integrated into your corporate culture and ensure that there is always an effort to improve and grow as a company. It is a continuous effort to search and locate the root causes of quality issues and production waste. However, once located, companies will be driven to make real changes and dig deeper into possible advancements, which will keep competition strong and the industry moving forward.
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