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What is Lean Manufacturing: Definition & Complete Guide to Lean Production

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lean manufacturing definition of cars in lean production

Businesses today have so many available processes to scale.  In a perfect world, this would be very simple math: create a system & increase volume for profit.  However, these processes are not always dialed in and the desired growth does not meet the bottom line profitability targets.  The concept of lean is to strip down these processes from scratch to ensure productivity, scalability and thus profitability.  Let’s look at the core driver of this concept,  Lean manufacturing: 

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing (or lean production) is a business strategy having to do with increasing a companies efficiency while reducing waste. Lean manufacturing when done well can greatly affect the bottom line as proved by Toyota in their 1930s operating model “The Toyota Way.” 

The last thing a company wants to do is to waste any of its limited resources. For example, businesses that own multiple intellectual properties and barely use or misuse them could risk losing revenue, even if they have all rights reserved for those goods.

This idea of lean manufacturing relates to the Japanese concept known as kaizen. It’s essential to learn what that is before answering the question, “what is a lean way to produce goods?” After you understand the differences between these two concepts, you can then learn how you can reduce waste and increase efficiency.

What is the Difference Between Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen?

Kaizen isn’t exclusively for your value stream, but it does play a role. This concept centers around constant improvement, which can add value to your business and your life overall. Kaizen can be applied to the production of products through stream mapping to help find more efficient ways to make goods and reduce waste.

It doesn’t specifically mean going sparse on your supply procedure; it’s more of a view that acts as the foundation for this production method. Both of these ideas still have multiple similarities and increases the value added to a team, business, and so on. What you should understand is that kaizen and lean assembly can involve process improvement for your company and your products.

How Both Help You Reduce Waste

Decreasing waste is one of the main ideas of more bare manufacturing. That can apply to either a product or service, as they each require a company to utilize at least some available resources. If lean manufacturing centers around this concept, then where does kaizen fit? Kaizen is all about constant progression in a business setting right down to micromanagement and process improvement. Finding ways to reduce unnecessary resource usage is a type of lean thinking that increases the efficiency of your assembly, which is an improvement within your company. An example that could apply to both lean manufacturing and kaizen in decreasing waste is the Six Sigma method.

The Main Differences in Terms of Production

Having bare product creation stages isn’t merely about making goods as cheaply as possible, but it is about reducing non-value-added activities. This activity is the opposite of making the lean for manufacturing, utilizing resources that do not improve the resulting items and services sold to consumers.

Light assembly is a mix between finding ways to add value to the product and doing so without producing waste. Kaizen contributes more to lean production by discovering small improvements each day associated with this type of ideology.

Bare product creation stages have to do with the overall output that is sold to the consumer, whereas kaizen relates to continuous improvement in any part of the company. You can think of it this way: the aim of general advancement can lead to lean thinking, which increases the overall value of a product while reducing waste.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

This phrase refers to a business setting goals to increase the worth of their products and determining ways to eliminate waste during the process of creating their goods. There’s no one way to perform lean manufacturing; each business has it’s own resources and procedures when assembling their output.

Companies can utilize particular methods that will help them achieve these goals, such as value stream mapping. This practice allows businesses to create a chart that shows the series of actions that begin with the manufacturing of a product and ends with a consumer purchasing that item. Companies use this method to pinpoint the areas where they produce waste, resulting in the push for eliminating waste.

The Origin of Sparse Assembly for the Value Stream

The idea of improving output value without needlessly consuming your reserves is mostly associated with the car manufacturer, Toyota. The founder of Toyota, his son, and the chief engineer of the company created this process specifically for their business. Other corporations soon started to implement this strategy for their enterprises.

Multiple methods spawned from this idea, including the previously-mentioned Six Sigma system. The main goal Toyota had for carrying out lean production is to remove irrelevant elements in the company, like overproduction and unnecessary inventory. This corporation understands that eliminating waste is more than just reducing costs; it’s a web of communication and methods that must coexist for there to be efficiency.

What Does LEAN Stand for?

A common misconception about the word “lean” is that it’s an acronym. It doesn’t stand for anything in terms of the process for product creation. The acronym people are thinking about have less to do with ideas like a value stream and more to do with diet and fitness. Though it stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, and Nutrition, it could still provide some value to your business if you encourage your employees to follow it.

Having workers maintain their overall health comes with numerous benefits, including an increase in production and general morale. Investing in a wellness program can add value to your business by decreasing waste in the form of low motivation.

Reducing Non-Value through Healthy Employees

Lean production is already a concept that could benefit your staff members because it reduces work for them that your company would consider unnecessary.

A healthy laborer would have the energy to do their jobs efficiently, and they would also have the morale to help find ways to improve on factors within your value stream mapping plan.

Continuous improvement can be difficult for your employees to achieve if they’re too tired to give that extra attention. One way that creating a wellness plan increases workplace production is that it reduces sick days and helps your company save money on health insurance.

No matter how thorough your system is for following the lean principles, it would help if you had a healthy staff that’s on board and motivated to improve your business. Encourage your workers to stay fit and eat a good diet because it will affect your lean manufacturing in the long run.

Making a New Acronym for Lean

Lean is not an official abbreviation for something involving product or service management, but you could still make one to help develop a plan for your business. Your abbreviation could apply to your general industry, or you can tailor it to your particular business.

There are various methods out there, like Six Sigma, you can use to help you come up with an acronym. Lean can stand for the multiple steps you take to make your method more efficient or motivational words that encourage improvement. You could also create an abbreviation based on the five lean principles. The basic idea here is to create a basic set of rules that will play a role in enhancing your overall product management process.

Identifying the Wastes of Production

The idea of wasting during the assembling process isn’t just limited to spending too much money or utilizing unnecessary supplies to make your goods. Lean manufacturing can refer to reducing factors like needless transportation and idling. The Toyota Production System, or TPS, came up with various examples of these non-value-added activities. These elements can give you a general idea of how you make your assembly more sparse while increasing the value of your products to your customers. You can then determine other ways your company should eliminate waste from your stream chart once you’ve handled these suggestions. Some of these factors to look for in your company to improve lean manufacturing include product imperfections, idling, over-processing, unnecessary motion, underutilized talent, needless transportation, and too much inventory.

Imperfections in Goods Production

If the items you sell are defective, then it could end up costing you extra money needed to make repairs. To practice lean manufacturing, focus on designing and building a perfect product. You don’t have to use the most expensive supplies to make your goods; remember to stay lean.

Making your product with little to no flaws will give you the chance to come up with an exact process on how to manufacture that good. If you don’t follow this lean manufacturing tip, then it could affect your customer base in the long run. Your consumers will look to your competitors to find a better alternative to your product, so continuous improvement is crucial.

Idling Results in Negative Value

One way to practice lean manufacturing is to reduce the amount of waiting done between two or more processes. That usually happens during production when one operation has to wait for another to continue working.

When you apply a lean manufacturing method, that means you can save time and money. An example of lean manufacturing, in this case, is to find ways to reduce the time it takes for one procedure to complete a job.

You might have to rely on a method like Six Sigma to utilize tools that will help you keep track of the processes and come up with an efficient technique. Another way to reduce waiting between each procedure is to assign additional tasks to the employees that are idling.

Lean Manufacturing for Over-Processing

Over-processing is a type of waste where a company spends more to make a product than what that item is worth to the consumer.

Lean manufacturing for this issue might mean making future products without unnecessary technological add-ons. A further tactic would be manufacturing goods using cheaper, quality materials. The main goal is to reduce the process of assembly to what is only essential and required.

You might have to utilize kaizen to find improvements to make to your manufacturing gradually. The frontline employees on the ground floor that work in that sector could have a better idea or suggestions on how to implement lean manufacturing based on their experience.

Ways of Lean Manufacturing for Unnecessary Motion

It’s significant to find ways of making the motion of employees, machinery, and products as lean as possible. Being lean can refer to making a needlessly complicated movement of someone or something more simplified. It could also mean removing an entire process of motion if you find that there’s no use for it at all.

The reason you must focus on this type of waste is that it could potentially injure your workers and damage company property. Going lean for this part of your business has more to do with safety than reducing wasted time.

Applying a lean method could range from organizing tools and products better to changing the layout of a workstation to decrease walking.

Lean Manufacturing for Unused Talent and Ingenuity

This waste isn’t on the list of Muda created by TPS, but it still deserves your attention. You might have various employees doing jobs that underutilize their skills, so using a lean method will give them different work where they’re most needed. Implementing a light procedure additionally fixes the separation of lean management and employees.

Managers might lack the skills and experience to do the same jobs as their workers, which is why lean manufacturing would encourage companies to train them. The employees might have a better idea of how to apply a lean method to their everyday processes more than the supervisors that oversee them.

Lean manufacturing should be one of the primary jobs of a manager, so their workers shouldn’t know more than them on how to solve a job-related issue.

Needless Transportation in Manufacturing

Unnecessary transportation and motion sound similar to each other, but the lean methods between them can be vastly different. One of the goals of lean manufacturing for both of these wastes is saving time.

Another reason for the lean manufacturing of gratuitous transportation is to reduce delays of products your company sends to the consumer. It’s essential to acknowledge that motion waste isn’t exclusive to products and mostly refers to the movement within a building or business rather than a delivery.

Transportation waste can add to the risk of damage during the handling procedure. Utilizing a lean approach could help a company save money by removing any unnecessary steps taken during the delivery.

Excessive Inventory Waste

Companies making more of a product than what consumers demand is a tactic done to have enough for potential situations like manufacturing delays. However, manufacturing too many goods can result in downsides like increasing the cost.

Too much inventory can waste space that could instead be used by other products, equipment, or another more efficient purpose. Having a lean plan can help prevent damages to your goods.

Manufacturing a plethora of items at once means that they’ll have a similar shelf-life; they’ll expire in vast quantities if they’re there for too long. Additional resources used for maintaining excessive inventory is also a waste.

What are the Five Principles of Lean?

These principles are a step-by-step procedure that serves as the basis for sparse manufacturing:

  1. Defining Value: Before implementing a lean plan, determine what the worth of your product is to a consumer.
  2. Mapping a Value Stream: Use step one to create a system focused on manufacturing goods efficiently without producing waste.
  3. Creating Flow: Reduce as many obstacles as possible to ensure manufacturing is smooth, consistent, and quick.
  4. Making a Pull System: Your company only produces goods when demanded by your consumers so as not to waste resources.
  5. Constant Improvement: Never stop looking for ways to enhance your company’s manufacturing procedures.

How Rever Can Help

At Rever, we believe that anybody can be a knowledge worker, contribute to the organization’s success and thrive in their work through their contribution. 

In the end, lean management and lean management principles will allow you to create a stable production system and provide a systemic approach to project management.  

The key is to incorporate these lessons within your own management system and to seek improvement.  

What makes us human is the capacity to grow our intellect and will, and to use them for good. We observe, especially at work, that most people are asked to stop thinking and do as they are told. We want to change that. We enable people to achieve their full creative potential.

Interested in learning more or implementing your own lean management process? Then request a demo with one of our friendly team members today!


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