Lean manufacturing is a business improvement philosophy that means, in simple terms, doing more with less. Meeting customer requirements for a quality product whilst at the same time eliminating waste and streamlining processes in your workshop can reduce dead money from product waste, lower production costs, reduce the cost of creating quality products and increase labour productivity.
The key to creating a lean industrial manufacturing workshop is knowing the principles involved and understanding how to use them in your business. To help you consider ways that you can use these principles in action, we’ve used a recent case study on Varley, one of Newcastle’s oldest and most advanced engineering companies.
1. Eliminate waste in the workshop.
This starts by taking an honest and hard look at your processes so you can identify areas where you are losing money due to wasteful activities. Areas might include standing inventory that is wasting space and resources, bottlenecks in production queues or not embracing process automation options that could streamline your systems.
Varley, for example was looking at ways to reduce costs that allowed them to still deliver quality products on time to customers. One area they identified for improvement was their inventory, which was taking up significant space in their workshop. This leads us to the next principle.
2. Reduce dead money in your inventory.
Excessive stock is dead money and can take up valuable space in your workshop. It can also be financially wasteful if items become obsolete as your business and products evolve.
Varley recognised this in the process of implementing a lean manufacturing approach to their workshop. They moved to reduce their inventory to reduce costs by instead using ovesco’s kitting service, which allowed them to order from ovesco all of the materials they needed to complete product orders as customers requested them. ovesco’s kits provided the materials Varley’s team needed conveniently together in one case as they needed them, saving them the costs of unused materials and freeing up crucial workshop space.
3. Continuously improve your production line.
Use a mindset of continuous improvement and embrace automation processes to speed up production cycles. For Varley, that meant increasing efficiencies by having everything they needed for a product in one easily accessible kit. This ensured workers weren’t wasting time searching for materials in an oversupplied inventory.
4. Build to order for efficiency.
Today’s customers want made-to-order configurations, last minute changes and next-day delivery options. For optimal performance, production should be based on customer orders, rather than a forecast for market demand. As part of your process improvement efforts, make sure you develop a system that can speed up your response time to customer requests.
5. Respect your employees.
If you keep your employees engaged, give them the autonomy and tools to make decisions, and communicate regularly with your team, they will produce a consistently higher quality product and output. Human error is reduced when your employees enjoy their working environment, and giving them the opportunity to make decisions can boost morale as well as speed up the production line.
6. Get your suppliers involved in your lean manufacturing processes.
Strengthen relationships with suppliers and ensure they share your approach to quality and lean manufacturing by making them privy to the practices you introduce that are relevant to them.
7. Focus on quality.
Quality is key and this should stay top of mind whilst making the move to a lean manufacturing environment. Any step you take to improve your processes should not impede the quality of your products. Develop testing procedures throughout your production line to identify problems early, so you can fine-tune your systems and improve your products for the future. In addition, seek feedback from customers in regards to your services and products and take the necessary steps to improve your approach should issues arise.
ovesco brings quality parts to hard-working businesses and has offered high-quality and reliable kitting services for many years to support lean manufacturing. Our service is tailored to your needs and can range from small scale single package to multi case product kitting solutions.
Contact us today on 1800 811 556 or click here for more information on how ovesco can help cut out the waste in your business.