Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing represents a set of principles and methods that allow the companies to achieve the highest quality and precision in the operational processes.

This philosophy makes it possible to create an organization flexible and efficient able to realize a product or a service by making the most of the available resources.

The Lean Manufacturing concept was born during the 1950s in the Toyota’s factories, but only at the end of the 1900 was it taken to the rest of the world.

In a recent study published by Sole 24 ore, a magazine wich dealing with economic topics, pointed out that companies wich apply OELM ( Operational Excellence and Lean Management) tecniques have 9% more productivity than companies that do not apply lean philosophy.

Gravity Fed Conveyors
Gravity Fed Conveyors implemented in an Automotive Factory

The seven wastes

Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota’s Japanese engineer, identified 7 principal wastes that constantly occurred in every production environment:

  1. Overlap;
  2. Raw materials and semi-finished products waiting for the next processing;
  3. Material handling;
  4. Stocks;
  5. Processing materials for too long;
  6. Staff movements;
  7. Production errors

By reducing these wastes, the companies will more easily reach their final goal: the customer satisfaction. Not only that, because they will reduce their times and costs of production, by achieving a better quality, wich will continually improve.

Flow Rack with a low cost automation
LCA (Low Cost Automation) system

The five principles

There are five principles which define the Lean Manufacturing philosophy:

  1. Define customer value, what the customer is willing to buy;
  2. Define the value stream, which it means identify the set of actions that create the product or service;
  3. Structuring organizations by processes and not by functions, because all activities must flow without interruption
  4. Set up the activities according to a pull and not a push logic, so realize an activity only when the downstream process requires it
  5. Pursue the perfection by continuous improvements, in one word Kaizen ( KAI= improvement, ZEN= better)

The Lean Manufacturing goals

According to these 5 principles, Lean Manufacturing has many goals, which are:

  • Identify the activities that generate value for the customers
  • Value stream mapping
  • Minimize wastes
  • Create a flow, which improve value in a factory
  • Set up a flow, according to a pull logic
  • Takt time, adapt production capacity to customer demand
  • Reduce times (SMED technique)
  • Streamline the production time
  • Minimize stocks
  • Introduce control systems (poka-yoke)
  • Develop visual control systems (visual management)
  • Start with a continuous improvement cycle
Lean Manufacturing Workstation
Lean Manufacturing Workstation Render

The Lean Manufacturing benefits

Lean Manufacturing has a great value: with a limited budget it can be implemented in any factories, from SMEs to multinationals.

We can achieve some significant improvements:

  • Lead Time reduction and increased punctuality
  • Efficiency and productivity improvement
  • Less labor costs
  • Increased quality level
  • Increased flexibility and mix variations
  • Stock reduction

The Lean Manufacturing S

An operational technique

The 5S allow a standard structure, replicable in every company organization, which eliminate everything unnecessary.

The 5S identify:

  • Seiri: remove the suprefluous
  • Seiton: work organization in the workstations
  • Seison: order and cleanliness check
  • Seiketsu: standardize and improve all operation processes
  • Shitsuke: mantain the system over time to achieve success
Complete Line for Quality and Assembly
Complete Line for Quality in a manufacturing company

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