Ever since Ransom Olds designed the first car assembly line in 1901, people have been looking to make producing many different types of products more efficiently. Over the years, there have been many different lean management systems invented. Yet, the goal of all of them is to raise reliability while producing a quality product more effectively. Lean manufacturing systems, like Kanban and 5S, are worth investigating to raise your return on investment while creating a better product.
What Is Kanban?
Kanban is a visual workflow management tool designed to match inventory with demand. Since the brain processes visual clues 60,000 times faster than written messages, the system relies on cue cards to tell workers what needs to be done next. The system is based on a retail model in which only products that are needed are ordered. By creating only those pieces where there is a need, many bottlenecks are averted. Only a limited number of products are in process at any time. Analysis of the system allows problems in the future to be averted by visually understanding the workflow. Small steps are made when changes are needed instead of one large change all at once.
Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain
The Toyota Production System introduced the concepts that would later lead to the development of the 5S system of sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain was introduced to reduce waste and inefficiencies. While not an official “s” of the system, safety is often included as a sixth word in the list. The goal of the 5S system is to produce standard operational practices and to raise safety measures while creating cost-effective products efficiently. This process depends on people in a department creating their own highly visual workflow. The process begins with the removal of all items that do not belong in the working space. The remaining items are then organized so that work can be done efficiently. Then, all equipment is checked to return to as close to new condition as possible. During standardization, a program is created to allow everyone to work alike even if a person has to be replaced. Finally, an evaluation is conducted to look for ways to improve the current system.
Paring Down for Lean Manufacturing
The theory behind basic lean manufacturing is that nothing enters a workforce that does not make the team more efficient. This system demands that any vendors also use lean manufacturing. 5S and Kanban are both lean manufacturing programs. There will continue to be new systems developed because the idea of lean manufacturing is to produce a better product more efficiently.
Sustainability is also a goal of lean manufacturing. Each new system is based on lessons learned from previous attempts. The reason that lean manufacturing is highly effective is that anything that does not add value to the consumer is eliminated. Common examples of waste in manufacturing include overproduction, waiting for the next step to begin, unnecessary movement of products, wasted motions of people or product, and not using just-in-time inventory practices. This system is reliant on management recognizing the skills of those under them so that each person can be utilized to his or her fullest.
Lean manufacturing, including Kanban and 5S, is based on giving the consumers what they want while eliminating waste. Kanban focuses on moving products by visual clues because the mind can process visual clues faster than text. Meanwhile, 5S focuses on eliminating anything from the workplace that does not add value to the end product that reaches the consumer. Lean manufacturing automatically lowers business costs and allows companies to show more return on investment. If you are in charge of a company, then consider implementing lean manufacturing in your workplace today. There will be even more lean systems invented in the future, but understanding these systems now will help you understand future options without as much effort.
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