Lean Production

Lean production is set of techniques used by business to cut down any waste in operations. It is an integrated approach to design, technology, components and materials.

Lean Production Techniques

 Just in time (JIT) production and stock holding

  • Finished goods are produced just in time for them to be sold, rather than weeks or months ahead.
  • The parts that go into finished product arrive just in time to be put together to make a final product, rather than being stored in a warehouse.

Requirements of successful JIT production are:

  • A flexible, multi-skilled workforce needed
  • Strict quality control with zero defects
  • JIT is usually implemented with cell production.
  • Excellent relationship with suppliers and subcontractors.

Advantages of JIT production and stockholding are:

  • Virtually eliminates the need of stock of raw material and finished goods, thus reducing cost to the business.
  • Reduced work in progress
  • Increased workforce participation
  • Increased equipment utilization
  • Higher quality

Cell Production

This production involves both machines and human workers. In conventional production, products were manufactured in separate areas (each with a responsibility for a different part of the manufacturing process) and many workers would work on their own, as on a production line. In cell production, or cellular manufacturing workers are organized into multi-skilled teams. Each team is responsible for a particular part of the production process including quality control and health and safety. Each cell is made up of several teams who deliver finished items on to the next cell in the production process. Cell production can lead to efficiency improvements due to increased motivation (team spirit and added responsibility given to cells) and workers sharing their skills and expertise

 Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

Kaizen is Japanese for improvement. It is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life. When applied to the workplace, Kaizen activities continually improve all functions of a business from manufacturing to management and from the CEO to the assembly line workers. By improving the standardized activities and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste. Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses during the country's recovery after World War II, including Toyota, and has since spread to businesses throughout the world.

Kaizen is a daily activity whose purpose goes beyond simple productivity improvement. To be most effective kaizen must operate with three principles in place:

  • consider the process and the results (not results-only) so that actions to achieve effects are surfaced;
  • systemic thinking of the whole process and not just that immediately in view (i.e. big picture, not solely the narrow view) in order to avoid creating problems elsewhere in the process; and
  • a learning, non-judgmental, non-blaming (because blaming is wasteful) approach and intent will allow the re-examination of the assumptions that resulted in the current process.

The format for Kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor's key role.
Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.

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