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KEY PRINCIPLES OF LEAN MANUFACTURE

V. Ryan © 2017

 

Lean Manufacture operates through the implementation of a set of key principles, which are outlined below. It is the use of a combination of these, that allows companies to claim that their company system is Lean Manufacturing.
 
SIMPLIFY OPERATIONAL STRUCTURE
Lean manufacture will only work efficiently, if the operational structure of the company is simplified. An over complicated management system, or procurement system, leads to inefficient administration and increased costs. An overbearing quality control system, that interrupts manufacturing on the production line, will also slow production and add to costs. Lean manufacturing emphasises simplification of all processes. For example, it is important that all staff know their role within the company and precisely what they are employed to do. This is often achieved through standardising tasks carried out by employees.
 
     
     
ELIMINATING WASTE AND JUST IN TIME
Eliminating waste can be achieved in a variety of ways. Training staff to refrain from wasteful practices, such as throwing away materials that could be recycled or reused. Training staff to use their time efficiently and providing them with up-to-date machinery and technology, so that they have every opportunity to be efficient. Ensuring staff understand how systems (reporting faults, requesting maintenance, suggesting improvements, ordering materials etc...) work within the company work, will also improve efficiency. The full implementation of the Just in Time system.
 
     
OPTIMISE WORKFLOW
Ensuring that the production line runs smoothly and that interruptions do not occur, is another principle. This applies to all company activities, including management, the production line, procurement of components and materials to administration. The aim is to eliminate any practices that interrupt workflow or slow production. Listening to the workforce is critical, as workers will often have suggestions aimed at improving efficiency.
 
 
 
AUTOMATION, COMPUTER INTEGRATED MANUFACTURING AND FLEXIBLE MANUFACTURE
The increased use of automation, such as through Computer Integrated Manufacture (CIM) and Flexible Manufacturing, allows for efficient manufacture of products and a reduction in waste. Although automation has been blamed for creating unemployment, there is no doubt, that it increases efficiency. It also creates a smaller number of skilled jobs, essential in order to increase productivity, with a reduced workforce.
 
     
ACCURATE FIRST TIME MANUFACTURE
Reducing or preferably, eliminating faults / faulty products, from the production process, is essential in the world of Lean Manufacture. Accurate first time manufacture is the aim. The discovery of faults during quality control, will interrupt the manufacturing process, causing delays and increase costs.
 
 
 
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Companies and businesses around the world, operate in a competitive marketplace. For example, the Car Manufacturing Industry. Companies such as Ford, Peugeot, BMW and Toyota, are competing directly against each other. In order to ensure their survival, it is essential that they continually improve their products and customer service. This involves all staff, from the least paid to the highest, every workrole is involved. This process is called ‘Continuous Improvement’ (CI).
 
     

QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL

QUALITY ASSURANCE is the administrative system, that ensures quality at every stage of production. It includes staff training, surveying customers regarding the quality of the product, monitoring workers and establishing a quality control system on the production line.

QUALITY CONTROL includes quality checks by the workers and supervisors on the production line, testing that the product and it’s components. Visual checks and computer / sensor checks are included. The aim is to identify faults quickly and to address them. It also aims to sprevent faults or errors before they occur.

 
     
ADD VALUE TO THE PRODUCT - THROUGH CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
Lean Manufacturing requires customer feedback to be acted on, in order to add value to the product. Most companies have focus groups and feedback systems. Therefore, customer is a key component in the, research, development and manufacturing loop.
 
 
 
 
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