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These 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles Will Get You Quality Results

In simple terms, lean is a system, a way of life or even school of thought that’s focused on reducing waste in the industries. Usually, lean is applied in the manufacturing industries, and as a result, it can be used to reduce waste while also making sure high quality is maintained.

June 14, 2019 by Shoaib
Lean Manufacturing principles

What if someone helped you achieve your business goals by highlighting to you some of the benefits you’d get out of lean manufacturing? Is that something you’d love?

While there are other options you could opt for; manufacturing companies still prefer to go the lean manufacturing way because they are able to:

  • Reduce waste production by up to 80%
  • Reduce cost of production by up to 50%
  • Reduce Standing inventory by up to between 80-90%
  • Lower cost of quality by 90%
  • Increase labor productivity by 50%

In simple terms, lean is a system, a way of life or even school of thought that’s focused on reducing waste in the industries. Usually, lean is applied in the manufacturing industries, and as a result, it can be used to reduce waste while also making sure high quality is maintained no matter the operation you are running.

The big deal is to know what principle is involved and how you can use it, which is what set out to discuss today.

So, let’s start by listing here the 5 principles of lean manufacturing that we will delve into shortly.

  • Elimination of waste
  • Continuous improvement
  • Respecting the human elements
  • Level production
  • Just in Time production

LEAN MANUFACTURING PRINCIPLES IN DETAIL

  1. ELIMINATION OF WASTE

Waste elimination is probably the most vital concept in lean manufacturing as a practice. That’s why from the name ‘lean,’ we deduce the meaning “with as little waste and excess as possible.”

Therefore, it’s extremely critical to note that the primary lean manufacturing principle is to reduce waste as much as you can; and the more you can eliminate waste, the more you are saving every product that would have gone to waste without realizing it. Below are the bad practices you should avoid:

  • Having a standing inventory
  • Struggling to make use of the unusable by-products
  • Spreading out the workstation and maybe by increasing the travel time between the workstations
  • Long production queues which lead to bottlenecks
  • A single task that’s assigned to unnecessarily many workers
  • Not using process automation when it should be used

And although it’s difficult to cover all possible ways of reducing waste; however, you can document workflows to help you follow up with everything you do.

For example, if you fail to manage your business processes, you won’t have an idea of how tasks are done within the workplace. Sure, you may be able to know what should be done, but you won’t know how it was done or methods used.

If you don’t have an idea of how tasks are done, then it’s no secret that you can’t reduce waste because you won’t know the process that could be causing the waste.

  1. KAIZEN (CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT)

If you have managed to reduce waste, then it’s important to understand that both continuous improvement and reduction of waste go together. If you consistently improve the business process you have in place, you will be able to reduce waste as much as possible by eradicating whatever bottlenecks that could be part of the production system.

Besides, continuously improving your business processes is a better idea if you are working on a repeated task; because every improvement will have an impact at your workplace.

If you’re serious about improving your business practices, then you must document and manage effectively your processes as well as the procedures. Waste reduction will obviously allow you to realize the gaps that need to be filled; and thus, make critical decisions on how to improve effectively.

And it’s no rule of law to commence with proper procedures. Heck, you could be deceived that starting with the bad process will cost you more when trying to improve. It’s possible provided you aim to attain continuous improvement above everything else.

Instead of worrying yourself, make sure that the process you have is correct and accurate. There’s no point of documenting idealized processes on how you want things to be done because by then you don’t know where you currently stand.

  1. RESPECT YOUR HUMAN ELEMENTS

When we talk about lean manufacturing principles, having respect for humanity is critical, but surprisingly, it’s one of the principles that’s often overlooked. Sure, you may want to please your employees and make them happy at work, but having it in mind that you should run every element should be the primary goal.

Lean manufacturing principlesHowever, if you don’t respect or value humanity, there’s no way you are going to perform the best within your industry – respect for humankind should be your primary aim. Here are some key elements you need to keep in mind:

  • Never overwork your employees
  • Show your employees the reason why they should do their work
  • Align the reasons with their personal goals
  • Be sure to maintain a high level of accountability for both failures and success
  • Get to the root of a problem and find the best ways to solve it
  • Ensure that your employees’ work doesn’t drain them so much
  • Challenge them in a tactical way
  • Give your employees stability

And yet we all know, “It’s easier said than done,” and it’s true that the above practices can get hard to manage since you’ll be dealing with humans and not robots. That means that this principle will only yield results if you have excellent communication with your employees.

  1. HEIJUNKA (LEVEL PRODUCTION)

Heijunka is a Japanese word meaning leveling production. Leveling production is when you make sure that your output remains the same no matter what happens – natural calamities, over taxation, or market price changes.

This principle investigates the average order amount you can keep so that your production is consistent. Always be patient and avoid rushes to meet certain orders. If on certain days you produce more, let the more be channeled to the fluctuation stock.

While you could feel having an amount of fluctuation contradicts to what we had earlier discussed on the reduction of waste, it’s not as wasteful as compared to when you have a large inventory in the warehouse; without an idea of when it will be used.

To stay safe though, and make sure that your stock is sold and not just occupy space with no idea when it goes, you need to calculate your production rate and always match what has been ordered. Additionally, be sure to calculate the amount your stock needs by checking the variance in the order numbers received.

  1. JUST IN TIME PRODUCTION

Just in Time, commonly known as JIT, is one of the process innovations that has helped towards achieving the elimination of waste goal. JIT is one of those lean manufacturing principles, that probably the most famous and focuses on an item ordered to meet the demand, and that’s it – nothing more. In a nutshell, there will be no excess during production.

Sadly, Just in Time is freaking hard to practice because it comes with a ton of caveats that may not be easy for anyone to know where to begin.

The primary goal here should be to have nothing in the name of an inventory – whether raw materials, work in progress goods or finished products. Therefore, when you want to apply JIT to your manufacturing operations, be sure to reorganize and rethink the entire operation.

If you want to stay safe, you should know that when you get wrong order predictions or the unexpected happens, there will be no better solution; you will have to deal with it.

For that reason, Just in Time isn’t a must-have practice. If you can greatly achieve it, there’s no problem – go ahead with it. Just make sure you have broken your operations into small sets, in which you can easily apply Just In Time.

Lean Manufacturing Principles make the lean approach a very successful strategy for manufacturers who are in for digitization to start from known principles and build up.

Check out one more piece on lean manufacturing and learn how salesforce is an important part of the puzzle to digitize your manufacturing operations.

Author: Shoaib
Shoaib Chaudhary is an entrepreneur and influencer with over 13 years of experience in the technology industry. He’s influencing global leaders to exceed company goals while advancing social responsibility. Shoaib is a certified Salesforce Consultant and professional with years on helping businesses achieve their digital transformation goals.
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