Lean Manufacturing Process | Purpose of Lean Manufacturing
Doing more with less by employing ‘lean thinking.’ Lean manufacturing involves never ending efforts to eliminate or reduce ‘muda’ (Japanese for waste or any activity that consumes resources without adding value) in design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service processes. Developed by the Toyota executive Taiichi Ohno (1912-90) during post-Second World War reconstruction period in Japan, and popularized by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones in their 1996 book ‘Lean Thinking.’
Lean Manufacturing, also called Lean Production, is a set of tools and methodologies that aims for the continuous elimination of all waste in the production process. The main benefits of this are lower production costs, increased output and shorter production lead times. More specifically, some of the goals include:
Purpose of Lean Manufacturing:
Defects and wastage-Reduce defects and unnecessary physical wastage, including excess use of raw material inputs, preventable defects, costs associated with reprocessing defective items, and unnecessary product characteristics which are not required by customers;
Cycle Times-Reduce manufacturing lead times and production cycle times by reducing waiting times between processing stages, as well as process preparation times and product/model conversion times;
Inventory levels-Minimize inventory levels at all stages of production, particularly works in-progress between production stages. Lower inventories also mean lower working capital requirements;
Labor productivity -Improve labor productivity, both by reducing the idle time of workers and ensuring that when workers are working, they are using their effort as productively as possible (including not doing unnecessary tasks or unnecessary motions);
Utilization of equipment and space-Use equipment and manufacturing space more efficiently by eliminating bottlenecks and maximizing the rate of production though existing equipment, while minimizing machine downtime;
Flexibility -Have the ability to produce a more flexible range of products with minimum changeover costs and changeover time.
Output –Insofar as reduced cycle times, increased labor productivity and elimination of bottlenecks and machine downtime can be achieved, companies can generally significantly increased output from their existing facilities.
Most of these benefits lead to lower unit production costs –for example, more effective use of equipment and space leads to lower depreciation costs per unit produced, more effective use of labor results in lower labor costs per unit produced and lower defects lead to lower cost of goods sold.