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FAQ
Why Go LEAN?

Many companies have realized gains in productivity and profitability through implementing LEAN manufacturing. The full implementation of LEAN methods and thinking creates an environment of trust and accountability, while reducing waste and increasing productivity.

LEAN Manufacturing requires less of every input (less time, human effort, material, capital, and space) to produce high quality products or services that generate greater value for your customer.




 

What is Lean?
What is the most critical first step to get started?
What are the Seven Wastes?
What is Kaizen?
What is Total Productive Maintenance?
What is OEE?
What is Kanban?
What are the best ways to communicate in a Lean Factory?
 

 


What is Lean?
Lean Manufacturing is a term that was coined by an MIT research fellow when examining what the Toyota Production really meant. 'It is reducing waste, effort, time, rework etc, so it's Lean'. Focusing in on Quality, Cost and Delivery and what really represents value in the eyes of the customer and eliminating anything that the customer is not willing to pay for.

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What is the most critical first step to get started?
The critical initial step to start a “Lean Operations” transformation is for organization leadership to recognize that lean is journey. It is a key element of the organization’s long term strategic plan. There is no 90-day solution that will transform the productivity of the organization. It requires the absolute, unrelenting commitment of senior management to the journey.

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What are the Seven Wastes?
Called Muda in Japanese the seven wastes are Overproduction, Waiting, Transporting, Inventory (unnecessary), Motion, Defects, Inappropriate Processing.

1. Overproduction is to produce more than demanded or to produce it before it is needed. It is visible as storage of material. It is the result of producing to speculative (push) demand.

2. Waiting for a machine to process should be eliminated. The principle is to maximize the utilization/efficiency of the worker instead of maximizing the utilization of the machines.

3. Transportation does not add any value to the product. Instead of improving the transportation, it should be minimized or eliminated.

4. Inventory or Work In Process (WIP) is material between operations as a result of large lot production or processes with long cycle times. This creates excess inventory that requires extra handling, space, interest charges, people, and paperwork.

5. Motion of the workers, machines, and transport (e.g. due to the inappropriate location of tools and parts) is waste. Instead of automating wasted motion, the operation itself should be improved.

6. Defects. Making defective products is pure waste. Focus on Preventing the occurrence of defects instead of finding and repairing defects.

7. Processing waste should be minimized. All unnecessary processing (non value added) steps should be eliminated. Combine steps where possible.

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What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is the Japanese word for Continuous Improvement and has been described as the key to Japan's Competitive Success. Its means gradual, unending improvement, doing 'little things' better; setting-and achieving-ever higher standards. Improve it even if it ain't broke, because if we don't, we can't compete with those who do. (Masaaki Imai, Kaizen, McGraw-Hill 1986)

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What is Total Productive Maintenance?
TPM is a technique for addressing lack of equipment dependability and effectiveness. If a plant cannot achieve machine reliability then it cannot become a 'Lean' factory as it must keep 'Just-in-case' inventory and excess work in progress.

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What is OEE?
Overall Equipment Effectiveness is the measurement used to determine how effective your machine is and is expressed as a percentage. It is made up of three factors; Available time, Performance, Quality and the three factors are expressed as decimal fractions, multiplied against each other and then by 100. This gives a percentage score which when trended over a period of weeks gives a benchmark or baseline which can be improved upon. The top faults shown by the data gathered by the operators are tackled and autonomous maintenance is introduced.

Although this may seem a little complicated at first, when the operators become used to it they find it a great tool to measure the consistent improvements that will come from the continuous focus on the top faults.

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What is Kanban?
As legend has it Kanban comes from the description card that was in with the parts sent to the line, and the workers would send the card back with the order to replenish so that they would get the right parts. This has now come to mean any signal for 'Pull' which can be a box with the number and description on it at a POUR or even a painted box on the floor as in IPK or in progress kanban.

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What are the best ways to communicate in a Lean Factory?
1. Simplify every process to minimize your need for information management. For example, the simple act of moving activities from departments to a continuous flow layout – in which an item goes automatically from one step to the next – eliminates all of the information needed to tell each department and step what to do next. And compressing your value streams by relocating sequential process steps from across the world to across the aisle eliminates the need for a world of information.

2. Make every step in your process capable and available. Breakdowns, turnbacks, and materials shortages generate the need for managers to manage more information. Instead of automating this task, try to eliminate the need for it. Think of your IT system as a different type of ‘just- in-case’ inventory.”)

3. Schedule each value stream from only one point. Taking this simple step will make information management easier throughout your operation.

4. Use reflexive production control upstream from the scheduling point. Lean Thinkers call this approach “reflexive” because it is like your reflexes. When the downstream process uses material, an automatic order is placed to replenish the same amount from the next upstream process. Like your reflexes when you put your finger on a hot stove, no thinking by a central brain is required.

5. Send information in small batches. Amazingly, many MRPs are still run on the weekend to produce a weekly schedule. And many sales and order management systems still work with weekly or even 10-day batches while many organizations seem to be moving toward overnight runs to produce a daily schedule. What managers really need to know is what to do in the next 15 minutes based on what happened in the last 15 minutes. Piling up information in a large inventory is as bad – maybe worse – than piling up large inventories of products.

6. Make your information management transparent and intuitive. Perhaps the saddest thing to see is good managers working furiously to override IT systems with opaque algorithms, making the situation even worse through their frantic efforts. Simple information management methods like kanban cards and web-based electronic kanban, plus simple heijunka algorithms, seem too simple to many managers. Yet they are intuitive. And anomalies quickly become obvious. Why spend enormous sums to keep yourself in the dark?

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