Lean manufacturing is one of the most popular and most effective ways to organize workflow, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency in the workplace. If you operate a manufacturing company that is looking for ways to improve and become more competitive, the Lean standards are a proven option that should absolutely be considered. Even if you already use some Lean techniques, a company can always make further improvements to gain additional positive results.
History of Lean Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing can trace the general concepts back hundreds of years, and in reality, many of the concepts have been used by man as long as we have been around. The formal Lean manufacturing processes that are in use today, however, really got started with Henry Ford and the assembly line for his vehicles. That was then taken to the next level and further formalized by the Toyota Motor Company using their ‘Toyota Production System.’
Using the ‘just in time’ production method allowed their manufacturing systems to not only produce a greater number of vehicles, but also produce them with far less waste. This helped to boost the profitability of the company while also increasing the customer satisfaction since they were getting more of what they wanted.
While most people think of Lean manufacturing strictly as a way to cut out waste, the real core is focused on the concept of continuous improvement. Of course, much of the improvement that is going to be done is in the area of waste elimination, so the two concepts go hand in hand. By having a company dedicated to continuous improvement, however, it is possible to identify problem areas and then put in the work necessary to eliminate them.
When first implementing Lean manufacturing there will likely be a lot of major improvement opportunities that can be tackled. Over time, it often becomes necessary to start focusing on the much smaller issues. By getting rid of lots of small waste areas, a company will be able to operate far more efficiently, which produces constant savings year after year.
Just as the Lean manufacturing process requires continuous improvement, those that are looking to implement it will want to adopt a standard of continuous learning. There are many Lean tools and systems that can be taken advantage of to make progress in any facility. Committing yourself to reading and understanding how things should operate will provide endless benefits now and in the future.