Working in lean manufacturing is a stark departure from other types of professions which require less of you. In any kind of manufacturing, it’s going to be demanding, but in lean manufacturing that’s been emphasized with the pursuit of principles like reducing waste, stopping the unnecessary movement within the manufacturing plant and producing goods based on incoming orders through a just-in-time production model.
In this article, we cover the benefits for a career in lean manufacturing.
Be an Efficiency Genius
If you’re someone who is fastidious and has strong attention to detail in their work, then you’ll enjoy working in lean manufacturing.
With any kind of manufacturing, it’s about how much production is possible with a given amount of materials, labor, machinery and time. Many production facilities aren’t anywhere near as efficient as they could be. Any wasted time, machines that stop working, missing employees or inventory that goes out of stock due to poor stock level management and the production line can grind to a halt.
Creating Flow is Interesting
The goal is to create flow within the whole manufacturing process. Any bumps in the road are going to be impediments to the eager pursuit of flow.
The people who work on the production line need to work predictably and reliably. If one person on the line is moving slower than every else, it holds back the other people further down the line. This results in fewer completed units being delivered each hour, making it impossible to meet the production schedule.
The equipment placed in the manufacturing plant must be suitable for its purpose. Many plants are still using equipment that’s far too old. It’s often past capacity, past it’s due date, and should have been replaced years ago. Usually, cutbacks in budgets are the reason why old machinery is still being used to meet every growing production capacities.
Older machinery leads to more frequent breakdowns, lower morale for staff, and a production line that stops in its tracks. It’s up to the person in charge of manufacturing to make the case for an increased budget to replace aging equipment and bring in what’s required to make the facility hum rather than creak along.
Someone who’s trained in lean manufacturing clearly also has to be a practical person and able to negotiate with the higher-ups to get the funding they require.
The building that the construction facility operates from is rarely fit to task. The original retrofit was probably many years ago with basic bush-fixes applied to initial floor plans rather than throwing them out and starting over.
Even with a smaller facility that’s a little too cramped, it’s always possible to do more with less. Reorganizing how the facility operates and where everyone is positioned makes a huge difference. Positioning necessary parts and materials nearest to the people who need them regularly avoids wasted time with production line staff having to stop what they’re doing to go fetch an item from a distant location.
Materials and Parts
Materials and parts must be managed efficiently to avoid running out of supplies. However, it’s also necessary to not over order, which takes up considerable storage space which can be better utilized.
By using lean production methodologies to produce goods sooner, and improve shipping too, a greater number of goods can go out the door while increasing inventory turns in the process. This also ties up less capital in materials and parts that might not be needed for months.
Another Goal is to Reduce Waste, Everywhere
One part of a lean manufacturing operation is to seek and destroy any waste found in the systems. Waste takes on many different forms and disguises.
Procedures that are too complicated with unnecessary steps along the way add complexity but not clarity. As a result, staff are often confused about how to resolve a problem or how to perform their part in the production process. Because of this, confusion sets in.
Getting involved means examining the task itself, look at what steps are in place and then stripping out anything unnecessary gets to the heart of the matter. The result is a smoother operation and less confusion all around.
Also, it can be the aforementioned supplies that are frequently required and not located near the person who requires them. This wastes time by having them seek out the supplies and halting what they’re doing on the production line in the process.
Perhaps the best innovation with lean manufacturing is with just-in-time production, which is really where it all began.
Any lean manufacturing course has a strong focus on production that’s based around customer orders received into the business and not on a set production quota with a strong disconnect to what customers want or are ordering currently.
The central idea here is to switch from producing batches of products based on production quotas and instead move to a model where goods are made based on what’s selling or being ordered. This connects the sales team more closely with the production facility. The sales team aren’t required to sell what’s already been produced regardless of whether those products are really what the customers are wanting to order. This makes it possible for an accelerated rate of sales achievement because the manufacturing facility is able to turn around more of what’s needed quicker when being responsive to orders in this manner.
To learn how to do this, studying for a lean manufacturing course or degree is the best idea. It provides all the background necessary to apply lean business principles to the manufacturing process. By doing so, it delivers value to the business as a whole while aligning the different departments together. Whether using just-in-time production methods or simply lean methodologies generally, learning to eliminate waste in any facility and creating a system that flows beautifully is a sight to see.
A career in lean manufacturing is a rewarding one. There’s always the opportunity for fresh challenges if you’re up for it. And you see real tangible results from your work at the end of it too.