Toyota Motor Company is a recognized leader in automotive manufacturing. Have you ever wondered how they achieved their success? In part, their success can be contributed to a method called lean manufacturing. In the 1990s, they developed The Toyota Way, which coincided with their rapid growth.

Since then, other companies have begun to follow it. This Toyota lean production system is designed to improve workflow so that waste is eliminated naturally. It also strives to enhance your ability to handle fluctuations in demand, stabilize uneven work load distribution, and reduce non-value adding work. Through the use of this method, production time and costs are reduced and quality is improved. Overall, they use visualization (of goals and the future) to continually improve upon this method.

In this blog post, you will learn about lean manufacturing, the types of waste and losses that can be reduced through lean manufacturing, and how to implement it.

Steal lettering with an emphasis on lean production, also known as lean manufacturing.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing, or lean production, focuses on working relentlessly to eliminate waste from the manufacturing process. Waste is any activity that doesn’t add value (things customers are willing to pay for) to production. This includes, but is not limited to production and startup rejects, reduced speed, small stops, and breakdowns.  In some inefficient workflows, this can be up to 60% of costs. Other goals of lean manufacturing include improving efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability.

When fully implemented, organizations that have achieved adequate lean manufacturing goals experience up to 80% waste reduction, 50% lower production costs, and up to 90% reduction in standing inventory. Labor productivity can be increased by 50% and the cost of quality can be lowered by up to 90%.

The Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Now that you know what lean manufacturing means, it’s important to learn what the principles of lean manufacturing are. These can help you implement lean manufacturing in a way that fits your industry, products, and company mission.

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement

The Japanese word Kaizen, which means continuous improvement, emphasizes that you can reduce waste through examining areas of inefficiency and continuing to improve your business processes. Improving your processes begins with documenting your procedures to ensure everyone has clear standards to follow.

To do this successfully, start by finding out what really happens in each maintenance procedure and write that down. Next, determine what you would like to change and implement those changes; then update your documented procedure accordingly.

Heijunka: Level Production

Heijunka, a Japanese word meaning level production, is another principle of lean manufacturing. This means that your output should remain the same each day no matter what occurs. You should know what your average order quantity is.

On days the production team ends up producing more than what is sold, excess products go into your fluctuation stock. On days that less is produced, your organization can draw items from that fluctuation stock. You should continually calculate and adjust your production rate according to your current average order amount. After a period of trial and error, you’ll be able to find a rate that is accurate.

Poka-Yoke: Mistake Proofing

Poka-yoke is a principle you can use to build quality into your lean manufacturing processes. The concept is that you determine how to avoid mistakes early on in the process. That way, they can be caught and corrected with the least amount of lost time and revenue. Oftentimes, simple changes in the process can be made that will save you from having to rework the finished product.

Jidoka: Detecting Defects through Automation

A principle that goes hand in hand with poka-yoke is Jidoka, or detecting defects through automating steps of the process. This concept is simple—an alarm is set up on machines to sound when an error is detected. Once the alarm goes off, the machine stops and a maintenance technician can come to check on the error and make the necessary repairs.

The 5S Methodology

At the core of lean manufacturing is a set of standards called the 5S methodology. A Japanese methodology that has since been adopted in other countries, it consists of five steps: Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seition), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke).

Sort in this context refers to removing things you do not need to complete your job from your work environment. By doing this, you eliminate physical and mental distractions, thus making your work more efficient.

Set in Order means to organize the things you have deemed essential after you’ve removed the things you don’t need. In this step, you also ensure that the tools you need are easily accessible, within arm’s reach when possible. Doing this will lessen frustration and help you get your work done quickly.

Shine refers to keeping your workspace clean and safe, which is vital to productivity. When you (and others) are used to seeing workspaces in perfect condition, you will recognize when they are not and be able to make corrections within seconds.

Standardize is what you should do next. Make everything up until this point standard process for each new employee. This will build a standard of excellence. To achieve this, a clear process that is easy to understand must be posted at every work station. This process will ensure things get done in less time and help employees learn what needs to be done daily.

Sustain, the last step in the 5S method, means to do things without being told. This requires discipline in the workplace, enforces the standard of excellence, and ensures others know what to expect. You may need to have audits in place to ensure all five standards are being followed.

Seven Types of Waste Lean Manufacturing Reduces

Now that you know what lean manufacturing is and what the 5s methodology entails, it’s important to note that this methodology can help to lessen seven types of waste. They are common in many organizations and all of them can lead to lost profit. So what are they?

  1. Over-processing – adding too many steps to processes, making them inefficient and the resulting product lower quality, or putting more time into a product than needed for the customer
  2. Excess inventory –having products on hand that don’t get used before their shelf life expires
  3. Overproduction – making more products than needed
  4. Waiting – people or machines waiting to complete the next step in production
  5. Defects – products that need to be scrapped or reworked
  6. Motion – unnecessary movement of people, equipment, materials, or products
  7. Transport – unnecessary movement of materials or products

One other type of waste not included in this list because it is more intangible, is unused human potential. This occurs when employees’ skills aren’t being efficiently utilized due to overstaffing, machine downtime, or lack of managerial direction.

A CMMS Can Facilitate Lean Manufacturing

A good computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can greatly help to optimize production equipment availability, which in turn contributes to lean manufacturing. Using CMMS software makes workflows faster and more efficient. The goals of manufacturing align well with the benefits of a CMMS.

There are multiple benefits of CMMS software that relate to lean manufacturing, including:

  • Better planning and scheduling of preventive maintenance, which reduces maintenance costs and improves productivity.”
  • Reducing maintenance costs and lost time from idle employees while they wait for equipment to come back online
  • Enhancing productivity due to mobile access to CMMS software, more efficient use of the system, and standardized processes for completing work, which are essential in taking steps toward achieving lean manufacturing.
  • Streamlining vendor purchasing procedures, which also saves money for the organization overall, contributing to the ability to maintain lean manufacturing.
  • Offering the capability to create streamlined tasks lists, which give technicians step-by-step instructions and ensure consistency and high-quality in preventive maintenance work. This makes processes more efficient, promoting better results and saving time and money.
  • Optimizing inventory stock levels through automated purchasing or reordering, reducing excess inventory.
  • Ensuring machines are available and running to specification, reducing the amount of defective products made due to poor maintenance practices.

FTMaintenance is the CMMS You Need

FTMaintenance is computerized maintenance management software that will help you achieve your lean manufacturing goals by ensuring maximum manufacturing equipment availability. The CMMS features FTMaintenance offers improves efficiency in every area of maintenance. Request a demo to learn more about how FTMaintenance can meet your maintenance department’s needs.