What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Eliminating waste in a process

The Lean Procurement strategy uses the fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing principles. CIC understands the culture, the time that needs to be saved and has the expertise to implement.

Lean Manufacturing is a focus on optimizing productivity, eliminating waste and implementing continuous improvement. This can occur on the plant floor or anywhere in a company. For the culture at a Lean Company to succeed, all employees must participate and all should be listened to. It starts at the top.

  • All departments can benefit from Lean.
  • Every process can improve.
  • All departments depend on each other.
  • Success requires ‘top down’ commitment.
  • Lean is a culture.
  • Processes can be either transactional or production.
  • Processes can be from the plant floor or the administrative office.
  • Procurement of supplies is just another process to improve.

Lean Manufacturing will eliminate waste & optimize productivity in the processes of making your product. The Lean Procurement strategy applies the same principles to the procurement process.

The Kaizen

Listening to people

Kaizen groups, which are commonly referred to as ‘continuous improvement’ sessions, are common methods for identifying and examining the problems in a process. The Kaizen organizes a solution recommendation for management.

  • Made up of employees from multi departments.
  • Meet for the sole purpose of improving a process.
  • Organizes a solution for management.

Input from people outside the process helps find a solution.

Who Started Lean Manufacturing?

Lean was first seen in concept by Ford motor company with the assembly line and later refined in Japan by the Toyota Motor Company beginning in the 1950s. Called the Toyota Production System, or TPS, it was defined as, “…A philosophical approach to business that is based on satisfying the customer by producing quality products that are just what they need, when they need them, in the quantity required, using the minimum of materials, equipment, space, labor and time.”

Most of the new ideas of Lean manufacturing are based on the work of Dr. William E. Demmings and Dr. Shigeo Shingo. The Toyota Motor Company was the first to introduce the combined system of ideas, which became known as Lean Manufacturing.

  • Ford’s assembly line
  • Toyota’s Production System (TPS) first introduced a combination of Lean principals called lean Manufacturing

Lean is a common sense method. Lean Procurement is the strategy developed by Consumers Interstate Corp and trademarked by Kenn Fischburg in 2005.

What Is the 5S Method?

The lean organization rules

‘5S’ is a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing and sustaining a productive work environment. The objective is creating a neat, clutter-free working environment. The “5” and “S” come from the five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. The English equivalents are; sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain.

The benefits are better organization, safer workplaces, and reductions in inventories, reductions in misplaced equipment and an increase in productivity.

  • Sort: Gets rid of clutter: Items that are not used in the work area should be removed. Items infrequently used should be properly identified and stored out of sight.
  • Set: Organize the work area: A place for everything and everything in place. All production items and their storage areas should be clearly identified. Setting up shadow boards that clearly identify where hand tools should be hung and stored is a good idea. This avoids hidden storage in private toolboxes and opens up the sharing of tools. Accessibility should be prioritized with reference to use. Cleaning materials must be stored in the work area not shared.
  • Shine: Clean and buff up the work area on a schedule. It is essential that enough attention be paid to the neatness of workstations so that the worker will be able to take pride in ownership. Also, a clean area is safer. Excess debris, cut metals, nails, grease etc. are eliminated.
  • Standardize: Establish written standards for key procedures. For instance, keeping order and cleaning workstations are important and specific time should be part of a procedure, reserved for end of day and/or end of task.
  • Sustain: Maintain the standards through training, empowerment, commitment and discipline.

The Lean Procurement strategy utilizes the thinking of the 5S method by organizing, standardizing and sustaining all the elements in the procurement process of thousands of repetitive supplies.

What Is Kanban?

A visible signal or record

Kanban means visible record in Japanese or ‘card’. It is a visual record or signal used in the process of maintaining inventory. Color-coded cards are a good way to improved visibility and identify an activity or step required in a process.

Benefits include: reduced inventories, predictable flow of materials, simplified scheduling and improved productivity.

Simple physical signals work to say, “I’m out of something.” It is a simple way to control constantly flowing inventory. Kanbans are used to manage inventory, quantity and flow.

  • Makes a process more efficient
  • A signal to produce or move a product
  • It can be an electric signal, an empty bin, a card, a pallet or a defined area to hold product

It works well for:

  • Repetitive production in small lots
  • Balanced manufacturing system
  • One-piece manufacturing

A Kanban system does not work well if your business is seasonal, requires large batch lots, and produces multiple products requiring tooling changes or a poorly balanced operation.

Technology Helps Lean

The right use of technology is an important aspect in a lean manufacturing initiative.

Technology can be applied to increase and improve communications, provide vital statistics and speed up the high volume of complex business transactions commonly done by humans. Customer orders and service requests can be submitted over the web. Production statistics, delivery information and budgets can be provided and updated live.

Speed, accuracy and communications support Lean.