Lean Manufacturing is a practice that is focused on eliminating any process or procedure that doesn’t improve the end value of a product, or removing anything that a customer would not be willing to pay for. While this does sound obvious, it sometimes takes out-of-the-box thinking to evaluate how a company or organisation is run and producing in order to see if there is a better way. Preserving value while reducing cost is the core element of lean manufacturing.
There are several ways to go about this. Some of the methods can almost be seen as competing methods, as they go about things from opposite perspectives, but the end goal is still eliminating non-value-adding work. Lean manufacturing is basically a set of tools that helps organisations to identify various forms of waste. Some of the tools that are often used are Value Stream Mapping, Five S, Kanban and poka-yoke. These methods focus on eliminating waste, because a waste eliminated improves production time, and eventually reduces an items cost, therefore increasing its value to the customer.
The second method focuses on production flow, keeping things flowing smoothly and evenly and not specifically on waste reduction. So, while these methods may almost seem contradictory, they both do improve the final product, which is the essence oflean manufacturing.
A simple way of summing it all up is that lean manufacturing aims at making work simple to understand, do and manage. A mentoring system has been implemented by some companies, and this has proven a very effective way to help employees to grasp their job, understand their objective and being able to deliver as expected. Other Companies have found that bringing in a coach to help identify areas where improvement could be made has been effective in “leaning” their procedures and improving their products.