What is lean manufacturing and why does it matter?September 30, 2013
Although the economy is slowly improving as each day goes by, the fact of the matter is that many manufacturers are still operating on limited budgets.
Although the economy is slowly improving as each day goes by, the fact of the matter is that many manufacturers are still operating on limited budgets. This can make everyday operations significantly challenging, particularly as some manufacturers are forced to take on additional work to make ends meet.
As such, lean manufacturing has become more prominent over the past few years. Lean manufacturing is derived from the Japanese concept of Kaizen first utilized by Toyota in the post-World War II economic climate. Toyota wanted to compete with major auto manufacturers in the United States like Ford and Chevrolet, but lacked the financial resources to do so due to economic hardships caused by wartime reparations.
As such, the company developed the Toyota Production System, which stressed efficiency and the elimination of wasteful processes and procedures. The system is designed to reduce time and resource-consuming steps in production so that only minimal inventory is needed during product fabrication.
Because this system emphasizes the importance of doing as much as possible with as little as possible, manufacturers across the globe have begun utilizing lean strategies in the post-recession era to deal with limited budgets.
Lean manufacturing revolves around the elimination of seven wastes:
Transport - Unnecessary movement of components in the production process.
Inventory - Use of unnecessary materials to create a finished product.
Motion - Taking unnecessary actions in the production of goods.
Waiting - Minimizing downtime.
Overproduction - Producing unneeded materials.
Over processing - Spending too much time creating an item.
Defects – Having to remake products because they were made incorrectly the first time.
Practicing lean manufacturing habits is an effective way for companies to streamline their production processes, thereby minimizing the amount of resources expended in the creation of goods. In times of economic hardship, this approach to manufacturing is particularly relevant to businesses of all shapes and sizes.