Lean manufacturing

5 Lean Principles & How To Implement Them Within Your Factory

Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing philosophy that focuses on reducing and eliminating waste and wasteful practices. Implementing lean manufacturing principles can make your processes more effective and increase your company’s profitability. Often associated with the Toyota Production System (TPS) or the Lean Six Sigma rules, lean production uses the Japanese principle of kaizen to foster process improvement on production lines.

Your organization can implement lean manufacturing optimization with just a few steps. Learning to implement lean manufacturing methodology allows you to discover different types of waste and find ways to eliminate it, stop overproduction, reduce lead time, gather key metrics for your cycle time and downtime, and create an environment of lean thinking.

Lean Principle #1: Identify Value

The first lean manufacturing technique is to identify the activities that cause waste and find things that add value. Value-added activities add to the creation of a product in your production line, from accepting the raw material to the final stages of production. To add value, a process must meet the following criteria:

  • Moves product down the stream, closer to completion
  • Be something that the customer is willing to pay for in the end product
  • Can be done right the first time without major errors or slowdowns

Wasteful processes and activities won’t add value to the production line and will actually slow you down. Waste can come from overproduction, defects, waiting periods, dead inventory, and wasted employee hours. Most processes in your factory can be categorized as valuable or wasteful, so knowing which is which is helpful when your goal is eliminating waste.

How To Implement This Lean Principle

To identify the processes that add value to your manufacturing operations, you need to begin by auditing your processes. By examining the current processes, machines, and systems you have in place, you can determine which are contributing to your organization's success and which are slowing you down. By finding the root causes of waste and identifying which processes suffer as a result, you can better implement value-added processes that don’t take away from your bottom line.

Lean Principle #2: Map Your Value Stream

The next lean principle is value stream mapping. Value stream mapping lets you create a visualization of all the steps in your work processes. It is a representation of the flow of goods you have within your organization at every step of the production process. Value stream mapping tracks every important step in your work process — from the supplier to the customer. Because it tracks the flow of goods, it is very similar to mapping your supply chain.

When you can visualize every step in your processes, you can get a picture of your performance at a single glance. You can also pull reports that help give you more information and details on whether your processes are wasteful or if they are adding value to your manufacturing organization.

Value stream mapping allows you to identify wasteful activities and get a clear view of your work processes. This way, you can see how long each process takes and what steps need to be taken to create a product.

How To Implement This Lean Principle

There are many different visualization tools that you can use to map your processes and create value stream mapping accurately. The most common tool used is called Kaban, a type of visualization tool that is intuitive to work with and displays information on helpful dashboards for easy consumption.

Lean Principle #3: Create Flow

The next lean principle that you can implement is continuous flow. Creating flow means moving a single product through every step of the process rather than thinking about production in terms of batches. This allows you to send goods to your customers and your market continuously, without waiting for enough orders to justify making a batch of product.

Creating flow might seem unproductive, but it reduces the downtime in the process of getting an order to a customer. When you approach production from the perspective of single-item flow, you can provide more value to your audiences and minimize the waste within your facility. After all, if you make things in a batch, but the entire batch doesn't sell, then you have stagnant inventory sitting around in your factory. But if you make orders as they come in, you know you won’t be stuck with unsold products.

How To Implement This Lean Principle

One of the ways to implement continuous flow is by calculating — and improving — takt time. Takt time uses your sell rate metric to predict the length of time you need to create a product, and the number of product units needed to meet customer demand. It allows you to find the optimal capacity for your production lines to meet customers' demands without adding extra waste to your production processes.

Lean Principle #4: Establish Pull

A pull system is another lean principle you can implement in your processes. A pull system is a technique for reducing waste that means you only start new work when there is customer demand for it. This cuts down on the amount of overhead you have and optimizes your storage costs and the available space on your production floor.

A pull system allows you to quickly adapt to changes that might come up when you are in the work process. You can also scale your team to their optimal capacity much more easily, as they won’t be stuck on other production lines that aren’t currently in demand. Just like continuous flow, it also helps you reduce resource waste, get products to customers faster, and increase your organization’s overall productivity and efficiency.

How To Implement This Lean Principle

Kanban tools can also help you implement a pull system. These tools will allow you to move workers to their next task and prioritize the tasks or production lines that are most important. This helps your team stay focused on what they are doing and allows you to get better productivity levels out of your workforce.

Lean Principle #5: Improve Continuously

Continuous improvement is the final principle of lean manufacturing that you can implement in your production facility. When you can improve continuously, you don’t allow yourself to become stagnant. Instead, you are continually looking for opportunities to identify waste areas and find solutions to solve those problems. This helps your organization become more effective and bring in better results.

How To Implement This Lean Principle

Implementing lean manufacturing principles and lean tools often requires the help of software. Trying to manually track, monitor, and organize the different steps of a lean process is overwhelming and can easily lead to errors and slowdowns. However, with the help of technology like production monitoring, machine monitoring, and IoT and cloud computing, you can track the waste and value in all of your manufacturing systems and develop better ways to reduce waste and increase profitability.

Make Your Factory Lean With Amper

When it comes to lean manufacturing, there are many lean initiatives that you can take to implement the principles and create a more successful lean environment for you and your team members. When a workflow has these important lean principles in it, you know that you are getting the best possible process improvement.

Becoming lean doesn’t have to be an overly complicated ordeal that requires massive overhauls of your manufacturing system. With the right tools, businesses can easily accomplish lean manufacturing. Amper is an IoT production monitoring solution that gives you real-time insights into your equipment performance. With this data, you’ll better understand your supply chain, reduce bottlenecks, and improve production. To learn more, book a demo today and see how Amper can help you improve your manufacturing processes.

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