Educating yourself on the benefits of Lean Manufacturing
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, manufacturers are constantly looking for different ways to gain a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors, and often the solution is going lean. Lean manufacturing is a production practice that considers the expenditures of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. “Value” is defined as any action or process that a consumer finds desirable and would be willing to pay for. Essentially, lean practices are focused on preserving value while using fewer resources, which is an increasingly difficult task. A great example of lean theory in practice is the Toyota Production System in the 1990’s, which helped grow a once small firm into the world’s largest automaker. Now, it would be unfair to say your firm will be the next Toyota if you decide to go lean, but going lean will provide an advantage to your firm by increasing value to consumers. To begin your transition you must take the time to learn about lean manufacturing, and there are several learning methods to achieve this:
- One-on-One learning – Perhaps the simplest way to learn about lean manufacturing. Find a suitable “mentor” who is knowledgeable on certain lean initiatives that is willing to coach you and help implement these practices into your own organization.
- Team Learning – collaborating in a group or team of 3 or more people will help gain insight from the workers of your shop into how they think efficiency and value can be improved. A department or project team meeting where the agenda is dedicated to sharing a lean initiative or real life example could gauge employee interest.
- Learn within and across the organization: Beneficial to larger organizations to hear the views from other departments within the company on different lean initiatives. It will require different managers to champion some of the opportunities discussed.
- Industry wide learning: This type of learning often takes place at meetings sponsored by industry associations.
- Cross industry learning: Taking industry wide learning to the next level and involving a wide variety of industries because often you will find that different lean principles are transferrable between similar industries. Practices in managing people, reducing waste, and customer service does not vary substantially across different industries.
- Cyber learning – Today’s technological world and social connections there are many news ways to learn and collaborate in a much broader sphere. Discussion boards on popular networking platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook offer participants an avenue to discuss different lean manufacturing techniques and applications.
There are many ways to learn about the different opportunities to make your organization more “lean”. But often, it involves the analysis of a firm’s current operations to see where improvements can be made. Many manufacturing shops are finding that CNC technology can help increase operational efficiencies, thus increasing overall value to the customer, despite the initial financial investment. In addition, CNC cutting systems like the ones offered by MultiCam help to eliminate other time consuming steps by providing a complete automated cutting solution. Shops are always looking for new ways to increase efficiency, and with a variety of cutting machines from MultiCam, including router, plasma, waterjet, knife, and laser cutters, MultiCam has a machine that will help your firm on its pursuit to becoming “lean”.