Lean manufacturing, or Lean Production, is the application of Lean Management to the entire production process from purchasing through shipping. The goals of a Lean Manufacturing implementation are decreased cycle time, increased capacity, improved quality, reduced costs and consistent delivery and service. Lean manufacturing goes beyond the factory floor and touches all aspect of the business, from facility layout, material flow, production tracking, inventory levels, purchasing, planning and scheduling, quality systems and work instructions.

The eight “wastes” that a Lean Manufacturing implementation seeks to eliminate are:

  1. Extra motion
  2. Overproduction
  3. Unnecessary work content
  4. Waiting
  5. Inventory
  6. Rework
  7. Product travel
  8. Underutilized People

Most implementations use one or more of the following tools:

  • Value Stream Mapping allows us to see the flow of materials through the facility, quantifying the wastes and focusing attention on the priorities for improvements.
  • Time Studies allow us to eliminate non-value added steps, identify safety violations, and design future state labor and equipment requirements. In addition the detailed time data are used to balance the process to meet customer Takt times.
  • Spaghetti Diagrams map the movements of people throughout the process to help the team see unnecessary labor movement in the current state.
  • Process Mapping will be used to ensure the flow of information for the entire manufacturing process is understood and streamlined.
  • 5S Visual Controls organize and standardize the tools, supplies and information required for the future state manufacturing process.
  • Cellular Manufacturing is a philosophy that product families should be built in small (preferably) U-shaped arrangements of equipment dedicated to that product family. Small teams of people are responsible for the start and completion of products within the cell.
  • Kanban Materials Management creates the pull of raw, work-in-process and finished goods inventory into the Lean Manufacturing System. It is used to ensure material availability and limit over-production or over-purchasing.
  • Quickchangeover reduces the time to changeover from product-to-product within the flow cell, improving equipment utilization.
  • Andon Boards make tracking operational performance and measuring improvements visible to the entire team.