As World War II ended, the formerly imperialist nation of Japan went through major militaristic, economic and social reforms. Two industrial engineers in Japan, Shigeo Shingo, and TaiichiOhno working for the car manufacturing company Toyota developed a series of methods and principles that increased efficiency and led to the production of standardized products. This production method was adopted Toyota car manufacturing company and was termed the Toyota Production System (TPS).
Based on his observation of this production system, John Krafcick, the CEO of Waymo, coined the term “Lean” in 1988, and thus the method of lean production was born. The idea behind lean production, often also referred to as lean manufacturing, is simple. The basic purpose of lean production is to remove unnecessary wasteful products or practices and use the bare minimum to produce high-end products.
You may also like Product Positioning: Making Your Products Find Their Home
Making a Business More Efficient Through Lean Production
What Lean Production Stands For
Lean production serves to provide high-value products to customers whilst minimizing wastage. By taking a good look at a company’s production line, unnecessary steps in the process. Which are often time-consuming and wasteful, can be eliminated. This results in the reduction of costs and the production of efficient high-quality products. Lean production reduces wastage and mistakes, and also ensures that inventory is utilized more efficiently.
The Elimination of Waste
The lean production principles lean on the pillar of the elimination of wasteful resources. Direct waste leads to a slow and sloppy production line and results in the non-productivity of employees and labor. Thus, eliminating direct wastes is important. Direct waste includes aspects such as materials, wait times, and time spent on moving goods.
The idea behind lean production focuses on the synchronization of manufacturing procedures. So that one task can start immediately as the previous one finishes. The next task is always ready to receive the semi-processed products from the previous ones. Human resources are not wasted in moving or transferring materials unless necessary as part of the manufacturing process. These measures allow the loss of less time due to unnecessary reasons, thus making the entire production process more efficient.
The Elimination of Mistakes
The lean manufacturing process also focuses on the elimination of production mistakes. Often, when a customer is unhappy about his purchase’s quality or specifications, a business will need to rectify the mistakes by correcting the item.
This consumes time, money, labor, and unnecessary resources, and also disrupts the flow of the production line. Analysis and correction of each mistake, and ensuring that it does not repeat, eventually reduces production mistakes to a bare minimum, improving the production line practices.
Lean production techniques can also be used to ensure that raw materials required to produce processed and finished products do not have to stay in the inventory for long. In the lean production process, an inventory consists only of raw materials that will be able to produce items just as they are needed.
Similarly, finished products stay for the minimal amount of time in storage, and are delivered to customers just as they order them. The result is that it reduces the cost of storage and always allows the production of high-value products.
Applying the Lean Production Technique
How can a business apply the lean production principles to their production line? Taking a series of steps may help them eliminate unnecessary costs.
– Reduction of Waste
A business can start by eliminating wastes, which is the key principle of lean production. This is one of the core principles of lean manufacturing. Analyzing exactly at which point the greatest wastefulness occurs, allows the business to reform its production line and add value to its products.
– Shortening Production Cycles
By reducing wait times and moving times, and the use of technological advances. The same level of production can be carried out in hours or days instead of weeks.
– Accelerating Response Time
Although businesses often attempt to forecast market requirements, this may not always be the most efficient procedure. Rather, a business could focus on the capability to adapt to market changes as necessary to reduce wasteful resources in case of an inaccurate forecast.
– Reduction of Inventory
As stated, the cost of storage and usage of existing inventory is can end up causing businesses more money and time than necessary. Reducing inventory only to deliver what is necessary as per customer specifications can be useful for production lines to minimize wastefulness.
– Allowing Autonomy of Employees
Allowing employees to make decisions regarding the production line not only boosts the morale of employees. But also trains them in managing a production line. This also improves production techniques and reduces time costs that often occur when employees wait for upper management to make a call about any particular issue.
– Testing Quality of Products
It is better to prevent mistakes than rectifying them. Creating check-points to test the quality of products at intervals in the production process allows the detection of error as early as possible, and therefore eliminates mistakes.
– Contact Suppliers
Suppliers can also be part of the lean production process through coordination and cooperation. Working together with suppliers to reduce costs and inefficiency will benefit both parties in the long run.
– Look for Customer Feedback
Just as suppliers can help with the lean production process, so can customers. Receiving feedback from customers and rating their satisfaction will give a business a clearer picture of things done right and wrong, and modify the production process as necessary.
The vision that the two Japanese engineers developed in the late 1940s are now becoming an integral part of every production process. Eliminating wastes and mistakes increases the value of a product to customers. However, to utilize the maximum potential of the lean production process. Employees from management to the production line must participate actively and try to achieve the best results possible.