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Lean Manufacturing Tools

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by Raunaak
Last modified: April 23rd 2021

Production costs are on the rise, which compels manufacturers globally to enhance their overall efficiency. Staying competitive in the market is the need of the hour. Lean manufacturing is an important segment for manufacturers that aids them in reducing waste from the production process. Further, it also cuts the costs and at the same time increases efficiency significantly. In this article, we will look at the Lean Manufacturing Tools. But before that, let us understand the philosophy and principles of Lean manufacturing.

If you want to enrich your career by advancing in Lean Management then enroll in  Lean Management Certification Training. This will help you achieve excellence in your domain.

List of Top 9 Lean Manufacturing Tools

The following are the list of best Lean Manufacturing tools:

What is Lean Manufacturing?

The game-changing process was first curated by Japanese MNC automotive Toyota. Toyota has the most profitable business in terms of car production and technology. The automotive MNC began to focus on eliminating all of the steps in manufacturing that don't satisfy the consumer.

Lean production's ultimate goal is to decrease the activities which aren't valuable during production. It reduces the time required during the process of production and improves products' quality. During production, it is very much essential to use resources and overuse them calculatingly. Removing waste reduces the overall production time for any manufacturing industry, and it also improves products' quality. Further, it also reduces the entire cost that production industries incur daily.

Lean manufacturing has also brought a new avenue in production and manufacturing, 'Just-In-Time' production. The concept has brought in a paradigm shift that changed how manufacturing units work.

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Philosophy and principles  of Lean Manufacturing

According to Jones and Womack's 1990 publication, lean manufacturing has five essential principles. Jones and Womack, in their journal, wrote that lean manufacturing is a process that completely changed the way manufacturing units work.

The principles of lean manufacturing are:

  • Recognize the value of products as perceived by customers
  • Identifying the stream of value via business
  • Pull off from value stream
  • Making value flow seamlessly
  • Aspire for perfection

Tools of Lean Manufacturing 

Let's see what are the tools of lean manufacturing:

Lean Manufacturing Tool #1 - Just-In-Time

The fundamental premise 'Just-In-Time' in lean manufacturing shares ideas of producing items for eliminating all kinds of waste during manufacturing. Just-In-Time or JIT is famous for being demand-pull production and production that depends on customers' orders. JIT coexists with lean manufacturing to ensure an increase in profit for manufacturers during production.

Benefits of Just-In-Time:

  • The operations are exceedingly efficient
  • Enhances the quality of the product
  • Decrease overall inventory and production costs
  • It enables seamless and uninterrupted delivery

While implementing Just-In-time in production, manufacturers have to lay out detailed planning and scheduling. Careful and meticulous planning would ensure supplies are available as per plans. Further, ensuring that the production process will commence without a hiccup. Scheduling and advanced planning software are beneficial for combining production, demand, distribution, transportation planning, and scheduling. JIT also ensures all segments of the manufacturing process are appropriately regulated and works in proper synchronization.

Just-In-Time Purchasing

The tool is top-rated among manufacturing and production units. JIT purchases address manufacturing facilities' ability to order whatever they need, whenever they need. Manufacturing units usually keep extensive inventory for spare parts and raw material as the basic tenet. Why should manufacturers waste time wait for supplies and parts?

The massive warehouses with significant numbers of supplies aren't hallmarks of manufacturing facilities, even the well-run ones. Over the years, manufacturing has been diverted away from conventional business models to specialized products. Manufacturers today offer significant diversification in terms of the product, even with shorter production runs. Manufacturing plants that have the ability to produce for months without rearranging is in the past.

Today the manufacturing units adopt new changes which are introduced to the market immediately. The units don't incur high-level inventory costs alongside storing liability in facilities. Currently, lean manufacturing relies on cutting-edge manufacturing software like location tracker and materials' availability. This software is a communication tool to provide visibility for suppliers on materials' needs in advance. The modern-day solution makes it entirely possible to acquire the best price and steady delivery time.

Just-In-time Manufacturing & Inventory

The tool focuses on the overall manufacturing process that focuses on reducing inventory. It aims at producing the things necessary to fill in orders by reducing lead time. The out-of-date processes require organizations to build massive stockpiles with excess products. In the case of Just-In-Time manufacturing, manufacturers can depend on responsive production.

Manufacturers always anticipate unpredictable circumstances when products are ordered. When a facility decides to meet its goal to eliminate surplus scheduling production, it needs an agile system. Effective systems do have the ability to control moving orders via production to customers reliably and efficiently.

Just-In-Time Distribution

The lean manufacturing tools facilitate incredible methods for shipping products. The goal of Just-In-Time distribution is to avoid unnecessary inventory stockpiles at the time of shipping. The conventional methods of distribution rely on the back inventory technique to meet the increasing demand. Nevertheless, a shipping hub that uses Just-in-Time ensures that products reach their respective destinations with sheer precision. Moreover, the manufacturing limits of Just-in-Time also store minimal products for satisfying the growing customer orders.

Lean Manufacturing Tool #2 - APS Software

The Advanced Planning and Scheduling software is the need of the hour. They have indeed become the go-to implementation for today's manufacturing operations. Delivery hubs integrate APS software to address fast delivery, product assortment, increase demand, and cost pressures. The software aids planners in saving their precious time by providing subtle agility during production. APS Software is perfect for places with ever-changing priorities, inventory plans, and production schedules.

APS Systems have the province to get integrated with any MRP or ERP software. The unification aims to fill up the gaps that both systems lack in scheduling, accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency.

Using APS and Lean Manufacturing set up can benefit in:

  • Creating completely optimized schedules which balance delivery performance alongside production efficiency.
  • Increasing revenues by maximizing production concerning bottleneck resources.
  • Bringing a perfect synchronization of supply with demand.
  • Delivering organization-wide transparency by elevating resource usage and reducing waste. 
  • Drive the scenarios through decisions based on data.

The overall manufacturing operations will witness a significant shift once APS is integrated into the business comprehensively. The operation data in the ERP would also increase the efficiency of production. APS and Lean Manufacturing Tools sets an organization or business on a rightful path.

Lean Manufacturing Tool #3 - PDCA Cycle

PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act Problem Solving Cycle. As an essential lean management tool, PDCA is widely used for enlisting continuous improvement. The tool provides a comprehensive framework to solve and identify the problems seamlessly. With the PDCA cycle, there are specific steps that you need to follow:

  • Make plans for a particular goal
  • The necessary work should follow-up for the plan
  • Examine the work's result
  • Adjust/Act for fixing any unsatisfactory results

PDCA is one of the essential tools that people should have in their arsenal. There are specific individuals, which include Observe when the cycle begins. Users also need to emphasize the absolute need for understanding the realities of any said situation before finding a solution.

  • While beginning a new project for improvement
  • Curating a whole new process, service, or product
  • Implementation of said change
  • Continuous improvement implementation

Lean Manufacturing Tool #4 - The Five Whys

It is a simple yet efficient thinking tool that helps to identify the root causes of the problems. It also requires several participants to ask why continuously. The constant questioning would allow teams to diagnose issues without relying on any statistical analysis. When the statistics are in motion, the tool will identify several root causes alongside the relationship between them.

It entirely depends on users if they need to implement The Five Whys alongside Lean manufacturing tools. The versatile tool can also be used in different situations.

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Lean Manufacturing Tool #5 - Gemba

In Japanese, Gemba means 'the real place,' however, in Latin, Gemba denotes a 'place. Nevertheless, the site could either be digital or physical to carry out the work. The location could be a manufacturing facility and or a store. Adapting Gemba is more like going to the bottom of a place where value is curated. The site can be anything like leaders' offices or even spending time on the plant floor to gain an accurate and thorough understanding of the real-life implications.

While making decisions regarding manufacturing, it is essential to consult people on the front line. On the other hand, insightful people in manufacturing facilities can use Gemba to resolve issues and processes.

At the time of unexpected problems, users could reach out to Gemba to observe the happenings and make beneficial decisions. Gemba is considered one of the essential Lean manufacturing tools that aids leaders in sharpening their role and analytical skills.

Lean Manufacturing Tool #6 - Jidoka

Jidoka has a Japanese origin meaning 'intelligent automation' and 'automation amalgamated with the human touch.' Machines and humans work together when great things happen. Jidoka designs equipment by partially automating the overall manufacturing process. Further, this allows machines to discern defects while they are occurring automatically.

Jidoka is an essential Lean tool that prevents overproduction and defective products. It will reduce the overall labor costs by simply eliminating the necessity of human interference during production.

Lean Manufacturing Tool #7 - Andon

Most of the lean manufacturing tools in the world emphasize the importance of visuals. Tools like Andon empowers the whole value stream. Andon is the only tool in the world that does both the stuff efficiently.

Andon is a feedback system that empowers operators and production status. The tool also has a dedicated term, namely 'pulling the Andon cord,' which uses a physical cord allowing operators to put a stop to the production line.

The modern-day Andon systems might vary from each other as per their design. However, they have similar traits like audio signals, colored lights, and different displays to indicate status.

Lean Manufacturing Tool #8 - TPM

TPM or Total Productive Maintenance as Lean manufacturing tools increases operational safety of workers. TPM completely focuses on increasing the production volume by maintaining equipment reliability.

The Overall Equipment Effectiveness alongside TPM can enhance production volume. Additionally, TPM blurs the overall roles for maintenance and production as it empowers operators to maintain equipment. TPM's ultimate aim is to provide users a perfect state of great production, further implying:

  • No more slow running or small stops
  • No breakdowns
  • No accidents
  • No defects

Lean Manufacturing Tool #9 - TQM

Total Quality Management is specifically curated to work alongside TPM. Total Quality Management also refers to the efforts in an organization to maintain and install a suitable environment. Further, the environment improves the ability of the manufacturer to produce top-notch products.

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Conclusion

Embracing the notable lean manufacturing tools in 2021 could prove to be beneficial as outlined in the article. After careful observations, these tools are put into the article as they are incredibly efficient and reduce costs. Moreover, the Lean manufacturing tools could help businesses, factories, and facilities worldwide bring the best product to customers. Users must rely on them on an everyday basis to understand the true potential of Lean tools. Additionally, users will love the predictability and convenience that lean tools have to offer. The idea is to win the hearts of the customers and make your operation a great success.

Therefore, we can conclude that the ultimate goal of Lean Manufacturing Tools is continuous improvement. Every employee is involved in the improvement process..

About Author

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NameRaunaak
Author Bio

As a content writer and storyteller, Raunaak Mitra regards himself to be a prodigy in writing. He firmly believes that language is borderless, and anyone can write as long as they have a strong narrative capability and the ability to emote feelings into words. Authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and R. K. Narayan have influenced him to keep the writing as simple as possible for anyone to understand. Other than being well-versed about technological trends like AI, Machine Learning, AR, VR, Gaming, Microprocessors, Cloud Computing, Industry 4.0, literally any technological advancement (old or new), he also shares a knack to curate fiction on sci-fi, satire, and thriller genres.