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Top Ten Lean Manufacturing Tools

Top Ten Lean Manufacturing Tools

Lean manufacturing is the use of Lean principles and tools in developing and manufacturing physical products. Lots of manufacturers are applying Lean manufacturing principles and tools to optimize processes, obviate waste, advance innovation, and cut down time to market.

Lean manufacturing consists of five fundamental principles: defining value by specific product, identifying each product’s value stream, making uninterrupted value flow, allowing customer pull value from the producer, and the pursuit of perfection.

There are lean manufacturing tools that help to identify and get rid of waste and improve productivity. The top ten lean manufacturing tools in no particular order are:

KAIZEN

Kaizen is the Japanese term for ‘continual improvement. In this scheme, employees work together to improve the manufacturing process and eliminate waste.

To allow for maximum output for input and to save time, all manufacturing stages are measured, monitored, and tweaked.

You can implement Kaizen by following these five primary steps.

  1. Identify the problem area
  2. Analyze current method using videotape
  3. Test and assess improvement methods
  4. Carry out improvements
  5. Analyze results and demonstrate them to the upper management for feedback.

GEMBA

Gemba is the Japanese term for ‘the real place.’ Gemba is a philosophy that deals with spending time on the plant floor rather than our offices.

By speaking with plant floor employees and first-hand observation, Gemba allows us to have a deep understanding of real-world manufacturing issues.

Gemba is essential in order to be sound in decision making and relate well to the rest of the plant’s operations.

Gemba is also an important tool that leaders use to sharpen their analytical skills and help them approach their role with humility.

KANBAN

Kanban is the Japanese term for ‘Signal Card.’ This tool regulates the flow of physical goods within the factory and also with suppliers and customers. With this tool, automatic replenishment via signal cards shows a need for more goods. A visual indication of your processes is provided, and flow is maintained. Within a production stage, goods are replaced when their Kanban card is moved, which indicates a need.

Kanban does away with waste from the inventory and overproduction. It wipes out the need for physical inventories and relies on signal cards. An efficient process is created by this tool because it is based on consumer demand.

TAKT TIME

Takt Time is the German word for ‘pulse.’ Takt Time measures customer value. It’s the rate of production that adjusts production with consumer demand.

Takt Time is calculated by dividing the work time available for production by the units needed to meet consumer demand. For example, if a team works for 50 hours a week, and the consumer demand is 100 units, the takt time is 50 divided by 100, which gives us 0.5 hours. This means one unit must be produced every 30 minutes to meet consumer demand.

This ensures an efficient way of manufacturing products that will meet consumer demand while eliminating waste.

VALUE STREAM MAPPING (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is used to map the flow of production visually. It shows opportunities for improvement by showing the current and future state of processes.

This strategy involves the drawing of two maps of your workplace. The current state of production is represented on the first map. This should include bottlenecks, current delay points, etc. The second map is the future VSM, which shows the future and the elimination of issues found in the first map. The next task is to close the gap between the two maps.

VSM spots waste, reduces production time, and ensures a more efficient way of manufacturing products.

TOTAL PRODUCTIVE MAINTENANCE (TPM)

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) focuses on preventive and proactive maintenance to maximize the equipment’s operational time and workers’ safety.

TPM can be very effective in eliminating defects, reducing cycle times, increasing uptime, and improving productivity.

JIDOKA

Jidoka is the Japanese word for ‘intelligent automation.’ With this tool, the manufacturing process is partially automated and automatically stops when there are defects.

Jidoka allows workers to supervise multiple stations often, thereby reducing labor costs, and lots of quality issues can be detected instantly, thereby improving quality.

The goal of this tool is to avoid the production of defective goods and get rid of overproduction.

Jidoka has four fundamental principles, and they are:

  1. Detect the problem
  2. Cease the operation process
  3. Solve the issue
  4. Detect the cause of the problem to prevent future occurrences.

FIVE S (5S)

Five S (5S) is one of the Lean manufacturing tools that focus on workstations. This tool is a method for cleaning, maintaining, and organizing working environments to eliminate waste, improve safety, and maximize efficiency.

The 5S system stands for: Sort (get rid of unneeded items), Set in Order (organize unexpended items), Shine (clean the work area), Standardize (create standards), and Sustain (apply the standards regularly).

These five steps are the organizational blueprint for bringing up to par any littered and inefficient workspace.

SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Specific. SMART Goals are methods to set goals productively, and it ensures that goals are effective. Management must set reasonable goals in order to use lean manufacturing methods effectively.

SMART Goals are applied in lots of industries, and it helps to keep ambitions realistic and focused. Setting goals for production and safety are more useful to your business when the SMART format is followed. A goal will be more likely to be successful if it can satisfy all five requirements.

JUST-IN-TIME (JIT)

Just-in-Time is one of the fundamental practices of lean manufacturing. This tool deals with production based on consumer demand rather than projected demand.

You can produce the number of products customers wants instead of having a large stock of a product occupying warehouses. Unnecessary inventory is reduced, and manufacturers only spend on what will be paid for. This brings down space requirements and improves cashflow.

Adopting the Lean manufacturing tools outlined above will help your team eliminate waste, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. These tools can also ensure you deliver high-quality products to customers in a faster way.

Have you implemented any of the strategies listed in this article? If so, how have they worked for you?

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