Lean Manufacturing methods significantly increase productivity while improving quality and safety across diverse organizations.
Lean Manufacturing has proven to be one of the most productive methods for driving manufacturing performance, regardless of industry or product. It originated with Toyota’s Production System and was called Lean in the landmark study undertaken by MIT. Lean Manufacturing eliminates waste from all processes included in and associated with the manufacture of products. A suite of tools has been identified that can be selectively applied to transform manufacturing facilities into World Class performers.
The Lean Manufacturing Process
- Value Stream mapping – a process that identifies the flow of work and information in current and future state at both the micro and macro levels.
- Modular design and assembly – revisions to design that enables improved efficiency through product flow and cell layout including design to build applications.
- Cell Layout – an approach in which equipment and workstations are arranged in a specified area for continuous flow production.
- 5 S workplace organization – a methodology for organizing and sustaining a productive work environment.
- Visual Management – communication of goals and measures to motivate employees.
- Waste Reduction – an underlying principle in Lean Manufacturing whereby 7 forms of waste are reduced in the manufacturing process.
- Quality at source – a design approach that provides for the prevention of defects and re-work.
History of Lean Manufacturing Origins
In the 1950’s, Taiichi Ohno, the production manager of Toyota, faced a difficult challenge. Unlike others in the automobile manufacturing industry at the time, he was forced to build a large variety of vehicles with very little inventory.
Ohno succeeded by developing new techniques to restructure workflow and involve suppliers in the process of design and manufacture. Ohno continued to improve through the development and application of other techniques.
In the late 1980’ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology undertook a major study of automobile manufacturing around the world. Through this study, they discovered that the companies which had followed Ohno’s techniques achieved double the productivity with twenty five percent less defects than their nearest competitors.
The term “lean” was coined to describe this new breed of world-class companies – simply put, they achieve more with less.