If you want to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and provide your customers with greater value, then you should consider looking into lean manufacturing. It may sound like hard work, but with the right lean manufacturing tools, it is easier than you think.
Below are some useful tips to help you get started, but if you’re looking for some more in-depth knowledge about lean manufacturing, then why not consider completing an online lean manufacturing degree from Kettering University? If you’re looking to improve quality output, reduce waste and streamline processes in your business, then this course is the perfect place to begin.
Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA)
This provides you with a visual way to look at a problem-solving cycle. A PDCA includes a plan that aims at a specific goal, working towards that plan, looking at the results of the work you have undertaken and fixing anything that you deem unsatisfactory. PDCA’s are brilliant at identifying problems and resolving them quickly. It also enables employees to see how their role in the production process has impacted on the finished product and will often give them ideas on what could be improved.
The Five Why’s
This is another way to find the cause of a problem. The Five Why’s got its name because it requires you to continually ask yourself and your staff “why?” questions. By continually asking these questions, you and your team are likely to quickly find out what underlying issues are present. It also allows you and your employees to find problems for themselves, without having to use statistical analysis. Asking why will usually identify several problems and you will be able to see the relationship between them.
One-Piece Flow Or Continuous Flow
Continuous flow or one-piece flow asks teams of people to manufacture smaller batches of the product. There are a couple of reasons why manufacturing smaller batches can be good for a business. One is that smaller batches, pass through the production system a lot faster than larger batches and another is because it allows your employees to continually keep an eye on the quality of the finished products. This means that you and your team can spot a problem quickly and ensure that any alterations are made before the next batch is produced. This will save your business money.
This supports continuous flow by asking employees to organize their workstations based on the part they are producing. Cellular manufacturing reduces the amount of time it takes the product to travel between workstations and it allows for quick feedback between employees. Continuous flow works with cellular manufacturing to enable employees to produce small product batches that are more efficient. Many businesses achieve cellular manufacturing by setting up the workstations in a “U” shape.
This is another lean manufacturing tool that focuses on workstations. It works by dictating to employees how they should organize their materials and reminds them that they need to keep their workstations clean. A clean and organized workstation will improve efficiency and productivity in your business. The five S’s are:
TPM (Total Productive Maintenance)
This tool emphasizes operational equipment for the safety of your workforce and for your equipment. Following on from the Five S approach above, TPM encourages workers to maintain their equipment. This will help avoid breakdowns, accidents, delays, and defects. A portion of total product maintenance is the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). This measures the total amount of workers’ time that is productive. It bases scores on these factors:
To get the OEE metric, you need to multiply these three numbers together. The best businesses can achieve 85% TPM by using lean manufacturing tools. The average TPM for businesses that use lean manufacturing tools is approximately 60% and for businesses that don’t embrace lean manufacturing tools, their average is 40%. This shows just how much of a difference implementing these tools into your business can make.
This tool focuses mainly on customer value. It looks at the average rate employees need to manufacture items to meet customer demand. To work this out for your business, work out the total amount of working time that is used for production and divide it by the number of units your customers require. Calculating takt time is easy, for example, if your employees work 30 hours a week and you expect your customers to buy 60 units in that week, then 30/60 is 0.5. This means that your employees need to produce one unit every half an hour in order to meet the demand of your customers.
This lean manufacturing tool works alongside takt time. It helps employees meet their takt time by setting out a repeatable process for how they and their team should be working. It will document the materials they need, the steps they should take and how long each step should take.
This can be completed both manually, by inspecting the products or automatically using technology. By spotting mistakes and problems early you will increase your efficiency and cut down on your waste. You will hopefully be able to spot defective products before they are passed down to the next stage of the design process.
Leveling The Workload
This means that customer demand will increase and decrease, but you should continue to manufacture your products at a consistent rate. This will help your employees remain efficient as they will not have to alter their current processes to meet unpredictable demand.
By embracing some of the top tips shown above your business will be able to reduce costs and increase efficiency. You will also help you deliver a better-quality product in a quicker and more predictable way. This makes it worthwhile for both you and your customers.