The lean manufacturing definition explained.
How you define lean manufacturing could be vital to your company’s survival. The lean manufacturing definition is a philosophy that was developed into an operating system by Toyota and is now used by multiple manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies all over the world. At Toyota their manufacturing system is known as the Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota is internationally recognized as a world class organization and many companies use them to as a benchmark for their own production systems. Many companies have created their own versions of TPS to meet their own business needs, and they give their own systems a proprietary name e.g. a company called “Heather Computers” would name their lean manufacturing process “Heather Manufacturing System” (HMS) or “Heather Production System” (HPS).
However, the question remains to be asked; How lean are these company systems? The use of the words, “lean manufacturing” is a generic term that refers to the general practices, ideas and ways of transforming an organization into a lean business. What this means is the definition of lean manufacturing will vary from one company to the next depending on their own interpretation of how to use lean principles to meet business needs and developing their own lean manufacturing production system. Many companies profess to be using lean principles, when, in fact, they are not!
Therefore, the term ‘lean” is often misunderstood, misinterpreted and misused to the point where the word has developed negative connotations. People often interpret “lean” as leaning out the workforce to reduce the number of people or another cost cutting program. This is not, nor has it been the intent of lean, its true focus is to identify and remove waste from a manufacturing or service process to improve the value for the customer. Waste is defined as anything that does not add value for the customer. It is also defined as anything customers are not willing to pay for. Discovering waste that is hidden inside simple or complex business systems is a much better definition of leanC.
An Example Of Lean Manufacturing:
As an example, you order a product from a business and they tell you it will take six weeks before you can receive the finished item. How would you feel about having to wait for that long? This enforced waiting period is called “lead time” and companies quote it to cover up for all of their internal inefficiencies. However, the actual time that the company will work on the product is only five hours during the six weeks lead time. This five hour time period is known as “value added time”. The rest of this time is taken up by activities such as ordering materials, quality problems that create scrap and rework, waiting in between processes and poor shipping practices, etc. This extra time does not add any value for the customer, in fact, if they knew what they were actually paying for, they would be extremely unhappy. The company decides to implement a lean manufacturing system. There is a reduction in the delivery or lead time, from 6 weeks down to 3 weeks. The company is very happy because it improved value for their customers by speeding up the delivery their goods.
Using Lean Manufacturing:
An ideal company uses lean manufacturing to streamline their processes to give their customers exactly what they want, when they want it and of course, with the best quality, lowest costs and fast delivery. This creates a lean manufacturing definition which demonstrates how it can help a company to improve its services to its customers. Discovering a lean manufacturing definition for your company can really benefit you, your company and your customers. As any business person knows, keeping your customers happy is vital to the survival of your business and keeping it profitable in any economy. Create a lean manufacturing definition for your company today and start looking forward to a better and much more efficient tomorrow!