Lean Manufacturing

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

One of the biggest areas of concern for businesses of all sizes is that of waste.

Wasting resources (especially when it comes to raw materials in manufacturing) is a short way to waste time and money in your business and addressing areas of waste has become a commercial enterprise.

Lean Manufacturing: The Learning

There are so many areas in business that waste resources, from raw material selection and usage right up to staff skills and management tools.

Learning where these areas are and how to address them is something that experts in the field take very seriously; it’s even possible to do a lean manufacturing master’s to understand the topic and get involved with turning your company around.

Having a qualification in lean manufacturing (or lean production as it’s also known) shows that your potential employee understands how the principles learned can be applied to a wide variety of situations and solutions sought in all kinds of areas across your business.

It’s a great way to be sure the person you’re employing for the job understands the gravity of the task ahead and puts into a process the steps that can help solve the issues of waste and the drag on productivity.

The Benefits of Being Lean:

Investing in lean production and lean management principles is going to be a huge bonus for your business, and it’s a sure-fire way to make sure your business can survive the difficult times ahead.

The key point about going lean is that you will be investing in efficiency, both for your staff and for your materials. Better efficiency equals better productivity, and better productivity leads to a higher return on investment and profit.

As a bonus, companies who are more efficient and productive are usually better at beating the competition too because they can see the shortfalls and plan for them in advance; this means that they have more to bring to the table at a potential client or customer meeting.

One of the second most important aspects of lean production is that reducing waste allows customers to control what they value. It’s a great way to market to customers interested in paying only for what they will find useful, but this isn’t a universal approach.

For example, a brand of suits for men may give a manufacturing company a certain amount of fabric, but there are numerous different ways to cut that fabric to create the suits.

Clients who are creating very expensive and high-end suits are more likely to value the fabric’s cut to ensure everything matches properly, pulls in the right directions, and the pattern is kept flowing; this will inevitably end up in more wasted fabric and fewer garments for the client.

Clients who value cost will expect their manufacturing process to get as many garments out of the fabric as possible, sometimes compromising the pattern and the best cuts, reducing waste of material in the process.

By allowing your customer to dictate what they value (in the case of the example above, quantity or quality), your business will be able to meet customer expectations much better, and you’ll reduce the amount of time wasted in discussions with angry customers who haven’t had their requirements met!

Is Waste Universal?

In short, no. What one business sees as waste; another will see as a necessary byproduct. Waste itself isn’t a universal concept, but the very idea of reducing wastage is.

While what counts as waste itself may not be something that each business shares in common, there are a few common themes that businesses in all industries agree contributes to a higher level of waste.

These include:

  • Demand Waste – Fluctuations in demand can create wastage in all industries, both in terms of demand for raw materials and demands on staff time, energy, and skills.
  • Process Waste – Poorly designed management processes and time wastage are something that is universal across all businesses, and any business can fall foul of wasted time due to badly designed processes and inefficiency.
  • Time Waste – There are all kinds of ways to waste time in business, but it is often overlooked that of overburdening your staff. Put, if you have too much work for the number of skilled staff you have, you risk them wasting time and resources by not focusing their energy and attention on what needs to be done. This could result in poor quality output and damaged customer relations for you and your clients.

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