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What is Lean Manufacturing?
And Why is Lean Manufacturing So Important?
The basic definition of lean manufacturing is to initiate controls to produce the most product, with the highest possible quality and consistency, with maximum efficiency, in the least amount of time, with the smallest work space, while minimizing (or eliminating) human intervention, cost, transportation, downtime, and waste.
The concepts of lean manufacturing go back for centuries and are being applied to many areas of business and government, but when discussing lean manufacturing itself, two names are the most prominent. Henry Ford is credited with initiating many principles of modern manufacturing, but Toyota has risen as the leader in pioneering modern lean manufacturing. Sometimes, lean manufacturing and the Toyota Production System are even used interchangeably.
Once you understand what lean manufacturing is, the importance of it becomes fairly obvious if you want to be competitive in the marketplace. The article below outlines the advantages. It is the implementation of lean manufacturing that is the most challenging. Our hope is, if you do business with us, that you can learn from our lean manufacturing procedures. Beyond that, we hope you can benefit from the resources featured here.
Advantages of Lean Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing is the most common term for this leading goal in modern production methods, but it is also known by other terms such as just-in-time production, Toyota Production System, and Six Sigma. But how does lean manufacturing benefit the consumer and/or the industries who use it? Here we will look at the answers and outline how lean manufacturing can improve quality while keeping costs down.
The idea of lean manufacturing is not new at all. As mentioned above, even Henry Ford sought and innovated methods we would now call lean manufacturing. However, lean manufacturing has received a lot more attention in recent years, and has grown increasingly sophisticated. Basically, lean manufacturing seeks to look for waste and inefficiencies, and then eliminate them. Anything that does not add value, functionality, or quality is removed from the production process. Continuous improvement by the shortest, fastest route possible is the ultimate goal.
If one company can provide a higher quality product for less cost than their competitor, then they have a distinct advantage.
In the past, manufacturing companies basically produced their products to fill orders, and everyone was left to do their own thing as long as products were made to the given specifications and deadlines were met. For modern lean manufacturing to work best, everyone in the supply chain needs to be more informed because the end result usually involves several manufacturers. If there is a communication breakdown, things will be less efficient.
If a process in the manufacturing is being unnecessarily duplicated by supply chain members, the redundancy can be eliminated if it does not contribute to the value, function, or quality. A smooth work flow is the only way to get the best results at the lowest cost. This is all the more reason for cooperation within a supply chain. Transportation, machine set-up, inventory, quality consistency and inspection, material handling, these all affect the work flow, and are closely evaluated to achieve lean manufacturing.
Aside from cost savings, another benefit to lean manufacturing is that better use can often be made of smaller spaces. With solutions such as work cells, minimal movement of parts and assemblies creates better efficiency with less manufacturing space. Other benefits include reduced defects, less handling, better on-time delivery, and less inventory or storage requirements.
Lean manufacturers can get higher quality products to market quicker, control their costs, reduce waste, partner with other supply chain members to achieve the most efficient work flow, and offer better value to the consumer while still making profit.
Places for More Information
Feel free to learn even more about lean manufacturing, the benefits it offers, and how you can implement it using these resources. We also welcome your feedback so we can make these resources even better.
- Six Sigma - Six Sigma provides a wealth of information and resources for lean manufacturing, and also includes a forum where you can interact and ask questions
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers - This organization provides Lean Directions, a free e-newsletter specifically dedicated to lean manufacturing
- US EPA Green Supplier Network - H&L Advantage is proud to be working closely with the EPA's Green Supplier Network; lean manufacturing not only reduces costs while increasing efficiency, it also aids in protecting the environment