Thursday, May 21, 2009

Note On Lean Manufacturing:

Posted on 1:06 AM by Mirza Muhammad Qayyum Baig

Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy which focuses on reduction of the seven wastes (Over-production, Waiting time, Transportation, Processing, Inventory, Motion and Scrap) in manufactured products. By eliminating waste (muda), quality is improved, production time is reduced and cost is reduced. Lean "tools" include constant process analysis (kaizen), "pull" production (Kanban) and mistake-proofing (poka yoke). Lean manufacturing is relentlessly focused on eliminating inventory.

The key lean manufacturing principles include:

  • Perfect first-time quality - quest for zero defects, revealing & solving problems at the source
  • Waste minimization – eliminating all activities that do not add value & safety nets, maximize use of scarce resources (capital, people and land)
  • Continuous improvement – reducing costs, improving quality, increasing productivity and information sharing
  • Pull processing – pulling products from the consumer end, not pushing from the production end
  • Flexibility –producing different mixes or greater diversity of products quickly, without sacrificing efficiency at lower volumes of production
  • Building and maintaining a long term relationship with suppliers through collaborative risk sharing, cost sharing and information sharing arrangements.

Lean thinking is a broader concept, compared to lean manufacturing. It is basically about getting the right things, to the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity while minimizing waste and waiting time and being flexible and open to change.
A term coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, lean thinking provides a way to specify value, sequence value-creating actions in the best way, conduct these activities without interruption whenever someone requests them, and perform them more and more effectively. Lean thinking means doing more and more with less and less resources while providing customers with exactly what they want.

  • Lean thinking is the antidote to muda. Muda means “waste,” specifically any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value:
  • mistakes which require rectification,
  • production of items no one wants,
  • processing steps which aren’t actually needed,
  • movement of employees and transport of goods from one place to another without any purpose,
  • groups of people remaining idle because an upstream activity has not delivered on time,
  • Goods and services which don’t meet the needs of the customer.

Lean thinking also improves job satisfaction by providing immediate feedback to employees on their efforts to convert muda into value. Unlike process re engineering, it provides a way to create new work rather than simply downsize in the name of efficiency.

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