If you are currently working in or considering a career in manufacturing, you’ve probably heard of lean manufacturing. Originally developed in Japan, this is a systematic method for minimizing waste. Which of these five lean production methods are you familiar with?
- Continuous Flow
The goal of Continuous Flow is to have production flow smoothly with few (or no) interruptions between steps. Teams begin by manufacturing smaller batches. This allows workers to thoroughly examine the overall process and quickly eliminate several forms of waste including waiting time, transport time and incomplete inventory.
- Five S (5S)
The Five S method emphasizes clean and orderly workstations. The S’s stand for Sort (remove unnecessary materials), Set In Order (organize remaining items so they are easy to find), Shine (clean the workspace regularly), Standardize (make the first three S’s automatic) and Sustain (use this system regularly). The idea is to maximize productivity by removing the distractions of a poorly organized working area.
- Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
Total Productive Maintenance blurs the distinction between maintenance and production. Building on the Five S approach, TPM empowers all workers to take shared responsibility for preventative maintenance, thus reducing accidents, breakdowns, defects, and delays. As part of TPM, the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metric measures the percentage of working time that is productive based on availability, performance speed, and output quality.
- Plan Do Check Act (PDCA)
PDCA applies a scientific or visual approach to making improvements. Workers plan for a specific goal (make a hypothesis), do the work required (run the experiment), check the results (evaluate) and act to fix any unsatisfactory outcomes (refine and try again). Like many lean manufacturing methods, PDCA allows workers to identify and solve problems quickly.
- Takt Time
Takt Time focuses on customer value. This calculation measures the average rate at which teams must manufacture products to meet demand (Planned Production Time / Customer Demand). For example, if a team works 40 hours a week and customers buy 80 units a week, the Takt Time is 0.5 (40/80). In other words, the team must produce one unit in half an hour to meet the needs of the customers. Takt Time provides a simple method of pacing production to develop an efficiency goal for the plant floor.
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