An Introduction to Lean Manufacturing

The central idea behind Lean manufacturing is to continuously work to reduce and eliminate waste from the manufacturing process, without compromising on the level of productivity. This concept was popularized by Toyota and is now being adopted by various organizations to improve their production efficiency. Essentially, Lean manufacturing allows a firm to yield maximum possible output from minimum possible resources. By eliminating wastes from the manufacturing process, a company can reduce the overall amount of resources required to produce certain number of units. Lean manufacturing is one of the most commonly studies concepts in operations management, and holds great importance for a business management student. Here, PenMyPaper has presented a concise discussion on Lean manufacturing that can help you with your college paper.

What is Lean?

Lean can be defined as the “process of eliminating wastes through continuous improvement and focusing on exactly what the customer wants.” Operations with Lean approach allows organizations to provide exactly what the customers want, when they want them, through continuous improvement. A Lean manufacturing processes is governed by the ‘pull’ of customers’ orders, which forms the foundation of Just-In-Time (JIT) approach. JIT is one of the most common technique of Lean operations where continuous improvement and problem solving is achieved by focusing on throughput performance and reducing inventory. In this case, the manufacturing process is directly linked to the market demand, where the production is changed based on the changes in the market demand for the concerned product. Learning about the Nike mission statement may reflect its implementation of this technique for its inventory management. TPS or Toyota Production System is another technique of Lean manufacturing, which is especially suited for assembly lines.

Irrespective of the nature of approach or technique, Lean operations are based on three key foundational elements, which are, Eliminate Wastes, Remove VariabilityandImproveThroughput.Let us now discuss on each one of these elements ofLean manufacturing for your professional essay writing.

Eliminate Wastes

Manufacturers following the Lean approach seek to eliminate non-value adding activities from the operational processes. The operational activities are designed in such a way that there are no bad parts, only value adding activities, no wastes and no inventories. Any activity in the manufacturing process which does not contribute to the value addition for the customers is considered to be waste and needs to be eliminated. Moreover, any value created that the customer is not willing to pay for, is also a waste. Therefore, in Lean manufacturing is focused on creating values which are preferred by the customers.

In order eliminate wastes, a manufacturer needs to identify all the different areas in the manufacturing process where resources are not properly utilized. In your process analysis essay, you can use the Ohno’s seven waste framework to identify the wastes. According to Taiichi Ohno, wastes can be categorized into 7 different types, which are:

  • Over Production: Any units produced before it has been ordered by the customers is a waste. To put it simply, production without demand is a waste.
  • Queues: Idle time in the manufacturing process do not add any value, hence considered as waste.
  • Transportation: Moving materials more than once between work centers or plants, is a waste.
  • Inventory: Unused raw materials and unsold finished goods add no value and are therefore wastes.
  • Motion: Movement of workforce or process equipment which do not add value to the manufacturing process is a waste.
  • Overprocessing: Any activities performed on the raw materials or the product which add no value are wastes.
  • Defective Products: Return of finished goods from the customer and warranty claims are wastes.

In order to avoid these wastes in the manufacturing process, organizations often emphasize on creating a more organized, neat and efficient workplace. This is often achieved by the 5S model of Lean operations. This theoretical framework is quite beneficial for your college essay. The 5S constitute the following:

  • Sort: Workplace should only have items that are needed, everything else should be removed.
  • Simplify: Improve workflow through better ergonomics.
  • Shine: Remove clutter from workspace.
  • Standardize: Remove variations from the operational processes and standardize tools.
  • Sustain: Periodic reviews should be conducted to sustain progress.

The 5S model as discussed above leads to continuous improvement and makes it easier for the employees to identify the areas which needs to worked on, in order to reduce the wastes in the system as much as possible. It should be noted that the process of waste elimination is a continuous process, in which efficiency is achieved in an incremental manner.

Remove Variability

Removing variability is the second element of Lean manufacturing. Variability refers to any deviation from the optimum process yields the perfect product every time. Lesser the degree of variability, lesser is the waste in the system. In most cases, variability is caused from poor management practices and ignoring wastage of resources. For your essay help, let us now look at all the different sources of variability in the manufacturing process.

  • Procuring non-complying units or units in improper quantities from the suppliers.
  • Lack of maintenance of production facilities.
  • Uncertainty in customers’ demands
  • Inaccurate specification of production materials.

Employees can closely monitor these sources of variability and ensure that are always kept under check. It should be noted that as a part of continuous improvement, an organization needs to constantly look for different sources of variability and proactively isolate or eliminate them.Adopting JIT is an effective way of identifying the sources of variability. JIT helps in more precise inventory management. This precision in timing exposes the variability in the system. Moreover, JIT also reduces the accumulation of inventory in an organization since, materials are moved in the supply chain as and when demand arises. The reduction of inventory through JIT leads to better identification of variability in the manufacturing process, which can then be easily eliminated.

Improve Throughput

Improve throughput is the third and final element of lean operations. The throughput refers to the rate at which units move through a certain process. The objective of every manufacturer is to increase this rate of movement, so that lesstime is consumed between procurement of raw materials and shipping of the finished product to the customer. This time span is called manufacturing cycle time. From the perspective of Lean, greater the manufacturing cycle time, more the cost and less the competitive advantage. The objective here is to move the product through the process and out of the books as quickly as possible.

In order to improve the throughput rate, firms often adopt the ‘pull’ system. It is one of the standard tools for Lean operations. It pulls a unit to where it is required, when it is required. Thus, units only move through the process, only when there is demand pull for it. This reduces the accumulation of inventory, thereby reducing waste and variability. Moreover, it also helps in reducing the operating cost for the company. Since, improving throughput reduces the cost of investment for inventory and manufacturing cycle time.

We hope that you have gained an in-depth understanding of the concept of Lean manufacturing and its implications to include it in your dissertation finding analysis while writing your operations management paper. Now let us look at some of the key advantages of using Lean manufacturing approach.

Advantages of Lean Manufacturing

Cost Reduction: The most crucial benefit of Lean manufacturing is cost reduction, which consequently leads to better profitability and increased shareholders’ returns. Since, lean is focused on reducing resource wastage, so it is extremely effective in cutting down costs of the company, thereby acting as a competitive advantage.

Better Customer Service: Lean operations are highly customer centric. It focuses on delivering the right value at the right time. Moreover, since the Lean approach is based on the ‘pull’ system, the organization needs to maintain a good relationship and communication with the customers. This as a result is reflected as good service quality and customer satisfaction.

Better Quality of Products: The Lean not only removes wastage, but it also eliminates variability or problems from the operational processes. It allows the firms to offer better products and services, which eventually leads to higher competitive advantage.

Improved Organizational Culture: Lean practices involve removal of clutter from workspace and favoring ergonomic designs. This as a result helps in creating a culture in which employees are constantly trying to get better performance and efficiency with available resources. Moreover, it also creates a culture of better organizing of workspace and tools, thereby making the employees more efficient.

Better Competitive Advantage: Lean manufacturing leads to faster throughput, reduction in variability and reworking, and offers price flexibility and reduces cost. All these factors lead to faster response to the customers at minimum resources, leading to strong competitive advantage for the organization.

By now you must be able to write about Lean Manufacturing and implement its principles in a case study. You can also get to know what Walmart human resources practice to manage their inventory with minimum wastage taking assistance from our experts. Just keep in mind that lean operations arefocused eliminating waste of resources and achieving efficiency in the manufacturing process. The organizations aim at providing best quality products with least possible resources. This as a result reduces cost and improves profitability, thereby creates a strong competitive advantage.

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