Lean Manufacturing: how to grow your company

Lean Manufacturing is far from being fresh news. However, it’s a term you’ll likely hear even more.

After all, we live in a world that there is so much competition and a completely globalized market.

This doesn’t mean that the pressure on corporate professionals is increasing, that there is no longer any tolerance for individual mistakes.

The scenario demands a collective response: lean organizational structure, with efficient processes, without losing track of the goals.

In this article, you will find out what is Lean Manufacturing and how you can use it to increase your company’s structure to competition.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is an operational and process management philosophy that aims to transform the production chain. In other words, and according to its literal translation, it is a concept that seeks to make manufacturing increasingly leaner.

However, it is not merely a methodology because there is no specific way to apply lean manufacturing in the company.

Surely, some principles guide its implementation. Thus, it is possible to eliminate or optimize processes that add little quality to the product or service.

In fact, in lean manufacturing, value is an important keyword.

It is necessary to understand the value stream, which comprises all the activities and information. There is a bond between the raw material supplier and the delivery of the product to the customer.

Thus, through the prism of lean manufacturing, it is possible to have control over the real needs of the business, eliminating excess and waste.

What are the main objectives of the Lean Manufacturing process?

Among the main objectives of Lean Manufacturing, we can mention:

Cost reduction

The definition of the price of a product or service was the sum of the product’s cost and the company’s desired profit. Currently, who sets the price of a product or service is no longer the company, but the customer.

It sets the price you want to pay after evaluating the same product with competitors.

In this new scenario, the only variable that is within the company’s reach is the cost, which the lower it is, the greater the company’s profit.

Continuous improvement

Lean Manufacturing does not reduce waste in the same model as an external consultancy, which assesses the scenario, makes a diagnosis, proposes changes in the company, and ends its work.

Lean is a philosophy that must be incorporated into the company’s organizational culture.

It aims to continually achieve better and better results. Then, after a process has been improved, this new process is re-evaluated after some time in search of further improvements. This cycle is endless.

Production Agility

By improving production agility, a manufacturer can serve a larger market without having to expand its structure.

Greater productive capacity

This objective is directly related to the previous one. The more agile a factory, the greater its production capacity.

It is very important to emphasize, however, that this objective is not an end in itself. Thus, you can increase lean production when you know there is a demand to absorb it.

Otherwise, it would not be reducing waste, but increasing it.

Improvements in the work environment

Lean Manufacturing should not be confused with obsolete practices that increase productivity at the expense of the quality of life of employees.

Ensuring a good work environment combats waste, as it reduces turnover and the absence of workers due to illness and accidents.

5 principles of Lean Manufacturing

1. Value

The value defines the customer despite the production of the manufacturer.

The manufacturer creates the value of the product through a series of combinations, actions, and activities.

The objective of Lean Thinking is to eliminate unnecessary activities, and preserve and increase those that add value to the customer.

2. Value Flow

Value streams are the activities required to produce all products. It includes the entire production flow, from the raw material supplied to the final consumer.

In addition, it includes the project flow itself, from its conception to the launch of a new product on the market.

This allows company managers to see the entire process flow and better understand what Lean Manufacturing is in practice.

3. Continuous Flow

The use of continuous flow provides a reduction in waits between activities and the level of stocks.

This eliminates queues and allows you to produce in line with the pace of demand.

After all, improving the flow means reducing steps, time, costs, and all unnecessary efforts.

This shows how much each team requires activities for the process, always maintaining a continuous flow of order and delivery.

4. Pull Production

Pull production is the method of production control in which the initial flow activities advise the later flow activities about their needs. Thus, it tries to eliminate production too much.

The demand generated by the customer is the “start” of production.

5. Perfection

With the help of Lean Manufacturing, the goal of quality control is to achieve perfection through continuous improvement.

The main tools of Lean manufacturing

To put into practice the entire Lean Manufacturing concept, there were some fundamental techniques to achieve the results of cost reduction and increased productivity.

1 – Value Stream Mapping

A tool created to implement the process of continuous improvement in a more systemic way within the industry, impacting the entire production chain and not just the individual. Identify a process that needs improvement and then map its entire value stream, detailing each step of the current process.

From this diagram, it is possible to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles of the process. After identifying the problems that block production efficiency, a flow is created that corrects these problems and brings solutions to increase the industry’s productivity.

2 – Lean Metrics

Some metrics are critical to tracking industry performance. Find out which indicators you should watch:

Lead Time – Time that the product passes between the beginning of the production chain until the final delivery to the customer.

Cycle Time – Time used to execute a process.

Throughput – How many units you can manufacture in a given period.

Take/beat time – Measures the team’s productive capacity, how long the group can produce a unit of the product.

Process Efficiency – Measures how much time is devoted to activities that add value to the product, relative to the total manufacturing period.

3 – Kaizen

Kaizen teaches constant improvement based on the principle: “Today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today”. The core of the concept is always believing that we can improve our work, making it more efficient, intelligent, and dependent on fewer resources to achieve exponential results.

It sounds easy, but changing old habits to a new lifestyle is a daily exercise that requires willpower and a lot of discipline.

4 – Kanban

The Kankan system is a form of control and integration between departments, to indicate when it is necessary to produce a product or purchase a specific material for manufacturing. However, the precept remains the same: good communication and planning between sectors so that only the right amount is produced at the right time.

5 – Standardization

Standardization is present throughout the Lean philosophy. However, it is important to emphasize that standardizing does not mean stagnating. Just remember that the Lean mindset prioritizes constant improvement.

Standards are used to achieve continuous improvement, maintain the quality and stability of processes by encouraging continuity in the evolutions that have been achieved.

6 – 5S

The concept refers to 5 Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke. Each of the terms represents good practices that encourage continuous improvement by the Lean culture.

Seiri – Sense of Use: refers to the intelligent use of materials used in production, eliminating unnecessary resources in the process.

Seiton – Sense of Organization: organizes all the important tools for carrying out the work, so you can access materials easily.

Seiso – Sense of Cleanliness: keeps the work environment clean and organized, taking care of all aspects of the physical space, including equipment maintenance.

Seiketsu – Sense of Standardization: the company’s good habits must become part of the collaborators’ culture.

Shitsuke – Sense of Discipline: self-management, dedication, and commitment so that employees live the 5S daily.

7 – Setup reduction

A large amount of customized products in the industry has increased the frequency of setup.

Thus, organize and plan the process so as not to generate interruptions in the flow of activities in the production chain.

8 – TPM (Total Productive Maintenance)

TPM is a set of actions that aim to predict and eliminate the causes of failures in industrial equipment. For this, it applies Planned Machine Maintenance: a management strategy that maximizes the machinery’s potential to produce more competently and at a low cost.

Through practices such as reducing breakages, defects, and accidents with the devices. All to ensure high production performance and optimize the use of systems.

9 – Visual Management

Visual Management is a way to organize the most important information about each area of ​​the company, clearly and transparently. Thus, managers and employees can monitor and understand production performance.

With access to the organization’s data, it is possible to control, plan and develop actions for continuous improvement. This tool is essential to help in making assertive decisions.

10 – Poka-Yoke (Mistake Proofing)

You can already see that predicting risks and errors is fundamental in the Lean system and the concept of Poka-Yoke is no different from that. In addition, they are techniques or equipment that identify faults before they turn into defects perceived by the customer.

Proactive and preventive action can prevent errors from perpetuating and affecting the finished product, compromising the quality of the material that you can deliver to the partner.

Does Lean Manufacturing work?

All approaches presented in lean manufacturing have the function of creating a more productive dynamic and avoiding waste. In addition, this waste generated human and planning errors that caused consequences such as poorly managed inventories, defects in goods, etc.

As a methodology that increases productivity by reducing waste, lean manufacturing cannot be seen as just a series of steps to be applied in industry, in isolation.

It is necessary to understand lean manufacturing as part of a company’s culture, as a way to identify what can be improved and permanently incorporated.

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