Testimonial: JD Machine
“You're not going to be able to exist as a company unless you can drive improvement," says Bryan Crowell, General...
With development of the Toyota Production System (TPS) by Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda between 1948 and 1975, Toyota positioned itself as a top competitor in the automotive industry; a position it retains to this day. The company’s enduring success stems from their ongoing commitment to and investment in creating innovative products, improving production efficiency, reducing work content and equipment cost in operations, developing skills, and responding to customer needs. Essentially, the firm has mastered creating customer value by maximizing productivity while minimizing waste.
This principle lies at the heart of lean manufacturing, a philosophy used by many of the world’s top manufacturers. While seemingly straightforward, achieving the same success through this process as a Toyota requires discipline and a commitment to fundamentally rethinking how businesses operate. Let’s talk through why.
Like the agile method for software development, Lean Manufacturing is both a system and a school of thought. Its end goal is to develop a perfect value creation process with zero waste. This probably seems like a pretty aspirational target because it is – accomplishing a zero-waste operation is virtually impossible.
Yet when a company pursues perfection as its ultimate objective, it assures that all other efforts they undertake are oriented and working progressively toward that mission. In case of the lean manufacturing, this means a business is continually incrementally improving customer value: processes are streamlined, wasted is eliminated, and output quality is raised.
Improving process efficiency liberates all plant personnel – from C-suite executives to frontline operators – from the burden of unnecessary, wasteful activities. Instead of fretting over excessive machine downtime or meeting production quotas, employees can now focus on optimizing the processes that help them deliver a better, more brilliant product to the customer. The cycle of improvement perpetuates as employees apply lean manufacturing principles to further relieve overburdened equipment and workloads, improving efficacy and growing profits.
Lean manufacturing is based on a set of repeatable principles that are flexible enough to be applied by any manufacturer and produce solutions unique to its operations. There are seven of these tenets:
Yet to effectively implement these principles and achieve operational efficiency, it’s not only a matter of what toolkits, processes, or even software a business chooses to implement. A company must capture the most powerful resource available inside the plant: the human brain. Employees need to understand not only how lean manufacturing will benefit the business, but also how it will benefit them and their roles. Knowing how they will be involved and will win is critical to engaging their hearts and minds in instituting change. Only then, lean becomes a way of life.
The lean principles guide the decisions of companies, so it is valuable to consider how they relate to lean manufacturing cycle. This helps keep the goal of these principles in sight: recall, lean manufacturing is a never-ending process to increase value.
The lean manufacturing cycle is the means to visualize that iterative process:
When organizations implement lean manufacturing principles, they achieve these tangible benefits:
Toyota’s Production System is still discussed in reverent tones because it was the first and most prominent example of success lean manufacturing implementation. Yet this accomplishment paved the way for many subsequent companies, such as Autoliv, to also achieve these efficiencies: leaned out operations with increased bottom lines, products with qualities that customers truly need, and an instilled lean culture.
The pursuit of excellence might seem intimidating at first, but lean allows you to start where you are and improve from there because lean is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. If you are ready to transform your plant floor, request a demo with Leading2Lean. Our complete manufacturing software solution has lean principles built so you can implement these principles and immediately enjoy its benefits.
What makes L2L so unique is the fact that the product was developed by real manufacturing users. People that truly understand the day-to-day issues and concerns that drive the production floor.