3 Things You Need To Know About Lean Manufacturing
Part 1 in a 3 part series documenting the WireCrafters Lean Journey & how it has transformed our business.
Lean manufacturing is the continuous improvement on increasing workplace functionality and decreasing waste, including physical waste or otherwise, such as time and resources. What is now known as Lean began with Henry Ford’s flow production when he streamlined manufacturing the Model T in 1913.
Unfortunately, the Model T was not customizable, so Kiichiro Toyoda, Taiichi Ohno, and others at Toyota evaluated Ford’s assembly line in the1930s. They realized that a series of straightforward changes would enhance the flow and also provide a wide variety of product offerings. After revising Ford’s original thinking, they invented the Toyota Production System.
There are many principles of Lean and they can be adopted in a variety of ways, which gives us the freedom and creativity to see what works best for our people and processes. We employ a Kanban system, use Kaizen boards, and implement the ideals of just-in-time production to lead the way we do business.
Kanbans are utilized in our pull system that keeps us on schedule, which is of utmost importance to us. If we are behind, or even ahead of schedule, we consult the Kanban board and can see where the lag is or visualize problems. Our Kanban is located in the central hub of our facility. It might look terribly confusing to people who don’t work here, but it is laid out in an exceptionally organized way by product line that keep track of inventory and tells us what is already in process and if there are delays.
This is where we find out what we need, how much we need, and when to replenish through color coded cards. This system puts more responsibility in the hands of our employees. Instead of having to consult a manager or computer system, everything is clearly laid out on the board.
We have several Kaizen boards throughout our warehouse. This is a visual storyboard where we recognize employee solutions. We take a photo of what the problem was and then another one of the employee’s solution. We are continuously evaluating our processes to see if they are creating value or waste. Who better to come up with a solution than the people working in this manufacturing facility? We love to draw on the knowledge and creativity of our employees and use their solutions to streamline manufacturing.
This production control system has evolved over many years of continuous improvements. Just-in-time philosophies ensure that each of our processes only creates what is needed by the next process. We want to make sure we are spending our time on what our customers have ordered and working in the quickest and most efficient way we can in order to deliver our products as quickly as possible. We can provide 48-hour shipping on stock panels and basic cages.
From meat packing houses to car production facilities to custom wire partitions manufacturing, Lean principles can truly be adopted by any organization to streamline processes, increase ROI, and reduce waste.
Be sure to keep an eye On the Wire to read all about how Lean has revolutionized our facility.