How Lean Manufacturing Powers Your Process Improvements

Posted by Craig Zoberis

Oct 14, 2014 8:17:00 AM

Lean Manufacturing Methodology Is The Key To More Effective Process ImprovementMany Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) see lean manufacturing as simply another set of tools or techniques for squeezing extra profit out of their manufacturing processes.

However, these OEMs misunderstand the true nature of lean manufacturing: It’s not a toolkit but a mindset. Lean manufacturing isn’t just about pinching pennies or putting unrealistic productivity expectations onto employees – it’s an entire philosophy of manufacturing that incorporates every aspect of your business processes.

And when your company’s processes are cluttered, unprofitable and in need of an upgrade, the lean manufacturing mindset is what helps power those process improvements.

Next time you’re enacting process improvements at your OEM – or encouraging your contract manufacturer to do the same – use these four steps to ensure your process improvements are tapping into the power of the lean philosophy:

1. Identify Issues With Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping provides you with a detailed view of all your different manufacturing processes, itemizing how each step delivers value to your customers. Your initial value stream map should diagram the current process down to the last detail, including any inefficiencies or wastes as they currently exist. Then, you need to analyze each step to determine if it actually delivers value to the customer, or if it’s a wasteful step you should eliminate.

2. Use The 80/20 Rule To Focus Your Efforts

The 80/20 rule (or Pareto principle) states that 80% of your revenue comes from just 20% of your products. This means a large number of your products are bogging down your business and consuming valuable time, budget and floor space. A lean manufacturing mindset helps you improve your manufacturing processes by eliminating or outsourcing legacy products and letting you get back to the product lines with the most profitability.

3. Adopt A Lean Culture At The Top

If you’re serious about adopting a lean manufacturing approach at your OEM – or if you need your contract manufacturer to do the same – then you need to cultivate a lean culture within your business. But before you start rolling out lean culture programs to your engineering and assembly teams, start with your top leaders and managers. With your leadership team fully on board, your process improvement initiatives are much more effective.

4. Spread Your Lean Culture To The Rest Of Your Team

Lean manufacturing culture doesn’t just happen in the boardroom, though. You must ensure that a lean culture truly thrives in every area of your business. While many lean manufacturing methods are simple to implement on the factory floor, you also need to ensure your company runs on a lean office. Once the lean manufacturing mindset permeates your team’s culture – from top leaders to front-line workers – then your one-time process improvements become continuous improvements, which ensures you never again have to initiate new improvement projects.

Lean manufacturing is more than just a trend or a fad; it’s a serious mentality that every OEM and contract manufacturer needs to adopt. Because when you make the transition to a lean mindset, your process improvements and your profits perform better than ever before.

Want to learn the secrets to more profitable lean manufacturing practices? Call me, Craig, at 630-948-4879 or click below to download this whitepaper from Fusion OEM and learn how to harness the 80/20 rule for more effective and profitable lean manufacturing – whether in your own facility or when working with a contract manufacturer.

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Topics: lean manufacturing, process improvement

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