What is Lean Manufacturing?


Lean manufacturing is the application of techniques and tools planned to minimise all activities that do not add value to the processes, products and services to improve the productivity of the company.

These activities represent a waste of resources, and time, for the achievement of the objectives and their reduction helps to optimise processes, making them more efficient and effective.

Time is a valuable resource for any company, so you must learn to optimise it.

How to achieve lean manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a process of “analysing” “thinking” and “acting”.

  • You analyse the production process by measuring times, the number of actions that are carried out, and problems that are detected in the development.
  • You think how you can simplify the processes and create a new one.
  • You act according to the new production process.

Of course, the participation of all operators is essential to perform this process of “analyse”, “think” and “act”, because many times they will have good ideas to optimise and simplify how things are done.

What are the criteria to make these improvements?

It’s simple, there are three:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Efficiency in resources
  • Innovation for the continuous improvement of processes

Do you consider that you are already applying lean manufacturing in your company? Excellent! then, take care that you are not making these mistakes.

What actions are NOT lean manufacturing?

  • Long meetings, without concrete objectives and where the proposals are never implemented.
  • Trying to apply improvements without the participation of all operators involved.
  • Restricting the creativity of people in the improvement of processes.
  • Exploiting operators to indiscriminately increase the pace of processes. It is about optimising the time to improve productivity.
  • Applying lean manufacturing principles to only one area of ​​the company. You must do it throughout the company, making “lean” a work philosophy.

Benefits of lean manufacturing

The management of a company that applies lean manufacturing is much simpler and better results are obtained. These results will be reflected in …

  • Improvement of productivity

When you eliminate the waste that does not add value to the production process you will obtain improvements in the yield and therefore higher productivity.

  • Greater degree of customer satisfaction

The customer will feel more satisfied because they will receive a quality product or service at the right time.

  • Reduction of costs

As production processes are optimised, a reduction in costs is automatically experienced. Money is no longer wasted in unproductive processes.

  • Time optimisation

You will optimise the time in each production process, as well as in the delivery time because the obstacles that generated delays will be eliminated.

  • Inventory reduction

With the systematization of the processes you will not fall into the error of overproduction, therefore the inventory that you will handle will be precisely matched to the demands of your clients.

Lean tools to optimise the direction of your company

There are different tools within the philosophy of lean manufacturing.

  • Business process mapping software

This allows key as well as support and sub-processes to be defined, analysed and monitored as part of improving efficiency and working toward lean manufacturing practices.

This is usually best achieved by using specialised process mapping applications. These offer varying degrees of functionality, but the best ones can allow you to rapidly redesign and compare metrics; for example, how much will be saved if a certain change is implemented? How much faster would the process be under certain conditions? Or by how much can failure demand be reduced?

Other useful features include live workshops, shared instantly with immediate feedback, digital
brainstorming features, allowing stakeholders to fully participate by having digital post-it sessions where users submit ideas via smartphone apps or browser, and see them appear live within the session.

  • The 8D

This involves applying 8 disciplines to solve problems, created especially to develop competitive advantages in the solution of difficulties and obstacles in a fast and effective way.

The 8 disciplines are summarised as:

  1. Set up a group to solve problems
  2. Describe the problem
  3. Create a temporary solution
  4. Analyse the root cause
  5. Create permanent solutions
  6. Implement and validate the solutions
  7. Prevent the repetition of problems
  8. Overcome the problem and learn from the process

Finally, you will know if your lean manufacturing is optimal because the results will be tangible, measurable, and will have generated significant changes and improved the competitiveness of the company.