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Introduction

The current manufacturing and service industry has encountered many changes from that of the traditional manufacturing and service system which was prevalent in the past. Today the assembly work is regularly categorized by the constant decrease in batch sizes and short production cycles. However, the variety of products and the models are increasing and the production capacity has also increased with the change in the manufacturing system. There has been a constant urge for reducing the lead times which add demand for more production and thus creates a challenging mix for the innovative and large manufacturers. In order to react quickly to the ever growing  and changing customer demands, there is a need for efficient manufacturing system that are capable of expanding and re-configuring  during their course of operation. It should also have the ability to accommodate new procedures in the assembly techniques in such a way that it does not make any investments for manufacturing obsolete products (Fliedner, 2011).

The lean manufacturing concept is also applicable to the service operation. There have been huge changes in the service operation too from that of the past. The lean principle for the continuous improvement and respect for the employees are applied to every service. It includes the healthcare services, call centre services, higher education, public and professional services and also in the software development services.

The Lean manufacturing approach in both the manufacturing and services operation highly depends on the workplace organization and the flexibility of the production system. Lean manufacturing can be defined as an outstanding initial point for the companies those who want to create a fresh and new look for their existing manufacturing system by introducing innovative methods of production. The lean techniques are worth for investigation since they have the power of eliminating the large capital investment which is needed for efficient and dedicated machineries till the mechanization is fully necessary. The lean manufacturing concept thus signifies an important decline of the automated factory which was popular during the past years. The “less is better” method in manufacturing guides to a remarkably simplified and uncluttered environment. The environment is cautiously tuned in accordance with the demands of the manufacturers (McGiven, 2013). The manufacturing of the products are carried out once at a time, after getting confirmation from the customers and are not done in batches, which adds up to the stock of the companies if not sold. The main goal of the lean manufacturing is to produce what is needed and not more than that. As there is production of limited number of products, it is important to change the processes during the day. It is required so as to accommodate various parts of the products and employ maximum effort from the workers, proper utilisation of the equipments and the floor space so as to save the scarce resources (Wincel, 2004). The flexibility that is inbuilt in the manual assembly cells is preferable for the automated assemblies. Thus, there is a prerequisite for the utmost flexibility so as to create unique demands on lean work cells and also, for the mechanism that are used for making the lean work cells. However, it can be observed that the lean approach is not always a resolution for the manufacturing problems. It is realised that it offers unique flexibility to the solutions for the assembling of the complex products. The essay thus elaborates the principle and the techniques of the lean management along with examples (Toyota Production System). It also highlights the lean just-in-time practice that is exercised by the companies. The essay also highlights the assumption whether lean principles can be applied in the low volume high variety manufacturing.

Lean Management Principles and Techniques (including Just-in-time)

The lean concept originated from the Japanese manufacturing areas. Lean can be described as the group of tools which enables identification and elimination of the wastes. The elimination of the wastes improves the quality of the products and also, reduces the time and cost of the production. The examples of such lean practices are Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, Six S and Poka-Yoke. The car manufacturing giant, Toyota, has supported the approach and added new methods to the manufacturing concepts. The focus of the same is on recuperating flow of the work by incessantly eliminating unevenness in the process of production. Wastes are also reduced in this process of production (Kilpatrick, 2003). The techniques supporting the flow of the work consider the production levelling, Heijunka Box and pull production. The lean management terminology thus puts forward the concept that anything which is not successful in creating any value must be eliminated from the production system. It thus describes more value for the purpose of less work. The lean principles started in the manufacturing environment and are known under different names such as, the Lean Production, Lean Manufacturing and Toyota Production System (Virender, 2010).

It is the process which is basically based on the performance. It is used by the manufacturing organisations for increasing their competitive advantage and differentiating their production system from their competitors. The essentials of lean manufacturing system takes into consideration the continuous development in the processes which focuses on the elimination of the wastes or the non-value added methods that are employed by the organisation. The difficulties that are encountered by the organisation in employing lean manufacturing is that they have to make a lean culture which will sustain and enhance the long term goals of the top management and also, of the organisation through the well-utilisation of workforces (The Folk Group, 2009).

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