Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is an organizational method of production which sprung from the Toyota Production System (TPS) as well as from several other sources in the form of eminent men who have put a lot of thought and analysis into scientific management, such as Benjamin Franklin, Frank Gilbreth, Henry Ford, Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Sakichi Toyoda. It is a concept employed in industrial engineering. It is a broad and nonspecific school of thought in management which works by linking connecting manufacturing cells together to set up an efficient and operative integrated system intended for an effective and well-organized control over inventory and production. A strategic aspect here is the use of fewer vital resources necessary to produce goods without sacrificing quality and workmanship. 

This way of thinking is known for centering on the so-called original “seven wastes” of Toyota, and gearing towards the enhancement and perfection of overall customer value. These seven wastes are as follows. Overproduction, which is production more than demand; transportation, which is the relocating of products and which is not needed for processing; waiting, such as for the subsequent step in manufacturing; inventory, referring to all components which are not being processed; motion, referring to when people or equipment are relocated or repositioned more than what is essential for processing; over-processing, which is secondary to inept tool or merchandise design generating activities; and defects, referring to the effort expended to inspect for and to fix defects. 

The institution of lean manufacturing services has resulted in the steady upward development of Toyota, shaping it from a small fish in a small pond to a big fish in the big ocean. Currently, Toyota is the largest car company worldwide, and the most valuable at that. Because of this, the concept of lean managing has emerged to become one of the hottest subject matters in the science of management in this day and age. 

Lean manufacturing also puts a lot of worth on various principles which will guide the manager on the dealing with manufacturing while doing away with as much waste as possible. These principles are the following: pull processing; perfect first-time quality; waste minimization; continuous improvement; flexibility; building and keeping a long term affiliation with suppliers through joint and mutual risk allocation, division of cost, as well as information sharing organizational planning; autonomation; load levelling and production flow; and visual control. 

In essence, lean manufacturing emphasizes moving the right things to the exact place at the precise time, and in the appropriate amount in order to attain perfect work flow, at the same time keeping waste to a nil and remaining flexible and keeping the ability to change and adapt to changes.  

Common sense plays a big role in lean manufacturing. Also, there is emphasis on keeping away from superfluous expenditures, with the notion that this would end up being more profitable than an increase and swell in sales. There is also focus on the elimination of waste, whereby Toyota identified and described 3 types of waste. In particular, these are muda or nonvalue-added work, muri or overburden, and mura or smoothness.  
Lean manufacturing also often put alongside Motorola’s Six Sigma philosophy, which methodologically develops and improves processes by getting rid of defects and process variation, and which has resulted in savings of more than US$17 billion for Motorola for the year 2006. 

This article was written by Gembutsu LLC, a lean manufacturing consulting firm located in Seattle, WA.