What’s Lean Manufacturing?

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Lean manufacturing is a strategy that aims to increase productivity while minimizing inventories. It involves placing small inventories called kanbans in strategic locations around the assembly line, reducing waste, and improving quality. Workers are empowered, and suppliers collaborate closely to facilitate the rapid flow of products and parts. Lean manufacturing saves money, reduces lead times, and increases profits, giving manufacturers a competitive edge.

Ever since Henry Ford invented the assembly line, industrial innovators have consistently focused on making improvements through a variety of different manufacturing strategies. Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing strategy that seeks to produce a high level of productivity with a minimum of inventories.
Originally a Japanese methodology known as the Toyota Production System designed by Sakichi Toyoda, lean manufacturing involves placing small inventories in strategic locations around the assembly line, rather than in centralized warehouses. These small inventories are known as kanbans and the use of kanbans significantly reduces waste and improves productivity in the factory.

In addition to eliminating waste, lean manufacturing seeks to deliver optimum quality by building a method whereby each part is examined immediately after production, and if a defect occurs, the production line stops so that the problem can be resolved. be detected as soon as possible. The lean method has a lot in common with the Total Quality Management (TQM) strategy. Both strategies empower workers on the assembly line, in the belief that those closest to manufacturing have the greatest knowledge of how the manufacturing system should work.

In a lean manufacturing system, suppliers deliver small batches on a daily basis and machines are not necessarily running at full capacity. One of the main goals of lean systems is to eliminate waste; that is, anything that does not add value to the final product is eliminated. In this sense, large inventories are seen as a type of waste that carries a high cost. A second important goal is to empower workers and make production decisions at the lowest possible level.

Furthermore, supply chain management heavily impacts lean manufacturing and close collaboration with suppliers is required; this facilitates the rapid flow of products and parts to the shop floor.

Lean manufacturing strategies can save millions of dollars and produce excellent results. The benefits include shorter lead times, reduced setup time, lower tooling expenses and, of course, increased profits. It gives the manufacturer a competitive edge by reducing costs and increasing quality and enabling the manufacturer to be more responsive to customer requests.

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