Lean Manufacturing

Be sure to check out the lean manufacturing section of our Software Directory.

Dec. 30, 2017 - The manufacturing floor is a complex place. Every day simple materials are being transformed into finished goods and shipped all over the world. Waste, in all forms, is one of the biggest adversaries a manufacturing floor faces in their battle to maximum profitability, but what is waste?
Nov. 29, 2017 - The mass production of footwear and apparel used to make sense for the fashion industry — the idea being the more product you could make, the more product you could sell. But the industry has evolved.
Nov. 6, 2017 - Manufacturing automation and lean manufacturing both have the same goals — to satisfy your customers at the lowest cost possible. To meet these goals, both approaches are aligned toward completely removing any non-value or low-value activities, cutting down on wastage and still maintaining a good standard of quality.
Apr. 19, 2017 - At GE Healthcare’s 280,000-square-foot repair operations centre in Milwaukee, Wis., a fleet of OTTO self-driving vehicles are used to deliver parts to workstation cells to handle over 2,000 repairs of medical devices weekly.
Mar. 26, 2017 - The Cloud-based lean manufacturing solution provider Leading2Lean helped West Liberty Foods save $2 million in maintenance costs over the past two years with its implementation of Leading2Lean at three of its plants.
Jun. 3, 2016 - In the beer business, it’s tough to be the little guy. Fighting for market share against huge companies with much larger budgets and much deeper pockets is an uphill battle.
May 24, 2016 - Unlike other industries, the manufacturing and production industry is no novice when it comes to project management. Lean, Kaizen, Six Sigma and many other methods have already contributed enormously to eliminating wastes, streamlining processes and optimizing production cycles in manufacturing.
Mar. 14, 2016 - Whether manufacturers pursue lean production, Six Sigma, or their own quality assurance program, measuring is at the heart of quality and foundational in Six Sigma’s goal to Define Measure Analyze Improve and Control (DMAIC) production processes. Yet excess waste remains when the measurement is completed by slow human subjective means such as traditional hand gauges and optical comparators, which can lead to a myriad of errors in production processes.
Nov. 5, 2015 - 4aBetterBusiness, a consulting firm that assures client companies make more money through increased productivity, reduced core costs and immediate employee engagement, has announced that company president Paul Vragel will be speaking at FABTECH 2015.
Jun. 30, 2015 - Eliminating process waste in a manufacturing setting is not a small task. Improvements in this area do not happen overnight, and cannot be viewed as a simple project that someone at a manufacturing company can undertake, implement quickly and expect to be successful. An entire culture shift needs to take place to make a real difference. Manufacturing companies are now seeing that by adopting and embracing Lean manufacturing principles, they are able to improve their bottom line and market share. But for Lean to be successful, there must be 100-per-cent employee buy-in to the process. The entire culture of the way the company operates must be examined, analyzed and critiqued in order to truly adopt Lean principles. Lean manufacturing is the process of identifying non-value added activity or waste. It includes anything that does not change fit, form or function of the product. If the process isn’t essential to the end product, it needs to be eliminated. The benefits are lucrative when Lean principles are implemented successfully. One will see gains in quality, lead-time reduction, productivity and employee development.
May 20, 2015 - You may be thinking about implementing lean manufacturing practices in your facility, or perhaps you have heard about lean manufacturing and want to know more. Whatever the case may be, these tips can help you determine whether your manufacturing process can benefit from lean techniques, and if yes, the best way to go about implementing them.
Sept. 18, 2014 - Manufacturing AUTOMATION caught up with Burlington, Ont.’s Memex Automation while at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. Company president David McPhail gave us a demo of MERLIN, Memex's manufacturing operations management system. Take a look.
A client recently asked me whether I thought the integration of lean was a worthwhile investment of time and capital. “That all depends on your objectives,” was my response.
In a highly competitive, globalized economy, manufacturing and fabrication firms no longer have room for errors or defects. We must relentlessly look for ways to meet and exceed customer expectations while growing the bottom line.
Lean manufacturing environments constantly evolve to address rapidly changing customer needs, which means workstations and areas within the plant are constantly impacted by transitions, additions, and moves. Manufacturing leadership that emphasizes visual communications lends a new perspective on lean manufacturing and helps improve operational flow. Here are three typical scenarios where visual communications can do just that. TRANSITIONS: Changing facilities without missing a beat “A large Fortune 500 manufacturer made a strategic decision to swap production lines of similar products at two of its facilities to optimize supply chain operations,” said Troy McKnight, partner with PM Alliance, a project management firm in Georgia. “This strategy was a challenging endeavour. What increased the complexity was (a) they could not stop production while this line swap was happening, and (b) one of the facilities was in the UK and the other was in North America.” Situations like this make a compelling case for extensive visual communications, specifically the kind promoted by lean manufacturing advocates. Lean techniques to speed such transitions include: • Using colour and number codes to identify the equipment for each section of the transported line. As each machine or equipment is disassembled, numbered colour-coded labels mark boxes and shipping containers. Upon arrival in the new location, the boxes are opened in reverse order to provide the parts in the proper order to assemble the machine. • 5S, but with everything returned to its proper location in a different facility. Show which items go to which work area. In the new area, create shadow boards, colour-code work areas, and mark floors with colour tape to show machine locations in advance of everything arriving. ADDITIONS: New Equipment “New equipment additions should be purchased with an eye to operational costs, especially when the equipment is a large energy user,” said Mitch Kennedy, founder of the Connecticut-based Design with Nature, LLC. “For example, the addition of a sizable injection molding machine, say 250 – 400 tons or more, could substantially increase the base load power of the facility. Moving is often the best time to reduce future costs for maintenance, utilities, and environmental compliance,” he added. Visual communications can be critical in such scenarios. Because new machinery and equipment may have different controls or operating parameters, create signs and labels with instructions on how to use machines safely and efficiently. MOVES: Eliminating Wasteful Motion Productivity and workflow expert Robby Slaughter, at Indianapolis-based AccelaWork, focuses on warehouse and inventory storage. He has seen many clients ignore some of the most obvious handling costs. “If you stack palettes as they arrive,” he said, “you will have to un-stack them each time to make a delivery to ensure that aging inventory is given priority. Alternately, if you create zones for each period of time, you’ll be constantly moving your entire inventory from one section to the next as time passes. The best approach is to update the signage rather than move the product.” Magnetic labels that can be easily moved are an excellent option for warehouses. In the food and pharmaceutical industries, transitions, additions and moves create the potential for waste as these products have limited shelf lives. Chad Metcalf, a food industry consultant at Orilla, Ont.-based Value Stream Solutions, Inc., zeroes in on eight deadly wastes—transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over-production, defects, and underutilized people—which can be mitigated by communicating standard operating procedures to ensure maximum efficiency. Examples: • Each time a product is moved, it stands the risk of being damaged or lost, which is a waste of time and money.• In contrast to transportation, motion is attributed to the worker. Excess movement to complete tasks or excess distance between workers and tools or materials is wasteful of the worker’s time and energy.• Over-processing occurs any time more work is done on a piece than is required by the customer. This includes using tools that are more precise, complex, or expensive than absolutely necessary.• Over-production occurs when more products are produced than is required by the next operation and ultimately the customer. Often considered the worst of the eight deadly wastes, over- production can set the other seven in motion. Aligning and uniting both managers and production floor workers helps reduce errors, waste and frustration. Open and transparent communication, including signs and labels, needs to be part a part of lean manufacturing practices. Communication is the light that illuminates the direction and future—the lubricant among people which enables a rapid horizontal flow of “part and product.” Jack Rubinger, Graphic Products, writes for industrial publications worldwide. For more information, visit www.GraphicProducts.com or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Dave Hogg is a member of The Association of Manufacturing Excellence’s corporate board. AME is North America’s premier organization for the exchange of knowledge in organizational excellence through the implementation of techniques such as lean tools and lean product development. For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
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