Lean Manufacturing Today

The effects of the pandemic seem to have shifted our way of living and thinking.  Finding new ways to fill a production need may become ever increasingly vital to many in the manufacturing field.  Some have converted to job oriented production, using CNC and other controls to switch production directives once a job is complete.  This approach made flexibility key to success and profit, and Zagar has streamlined its machines to flex with manufacturers. 

Another approach is lean manufacturing, or lean production.  It will not surprise you that lean manufacturing is a method of production minimizing waste within manufacturing systems while maximizing productivity.  What may surprise some, is that waste is seen as anything that customers do not see as added value, and for which customers are not willing to pay.  Today there is a shift in valuation, shining a new light on lean manufacturing.

There are many well-known companies using lean manufacturing such as Toyota, Intel and John Deere.  Lean manufacturing was introduced into the west through The Machine that Changed the World, published in 1990.  The book was based on an MIT study of the future of the automobile based on Toyota’s lean production system.  Using another book, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P Womack 1996, we list the 5 principles of Lean Manufacturing today: value, the value stream, flow, pull and perfection.

Thinking Lean by James P Womack
  1. Identify value from your customer’s viewpoint. As the producer, you can create and enhance the value of your product, but value will always be defined by the customer  To identify what is valued in your product, you will need to understand how the product is valued by the consumer, and what price will the consumer pay.  Once the price is identified, the question becomes, what can be eliminated in order to achieve that price, without losing value for which the consumer will pay?
  2. Map the value Stream.  What is needed, in terms of information, materials, or labor to produce a product?  The idea is that by knowing everything that contributes to production of the product, you can analyze what can be extricated as waste, without losing consumer product value.  The value stream map includes the product’s entire lifecycle, from raw materials to final disposal of the item.  Each phase may contain waste, and anything which doesn’t add desired value must be eliminated to cut costs. 
  3. Create Flow.  Think efficiency.  Eliminate functional obsolescence, and identify ways to improve turnaround time.  Ensuring processes are smooth from order to delivery can save time and money with a huge side benefit of a reduction in frustration.  Lean manufacturing means prevention of interruption and delays in the production process.  The process becomes smoother, as it gains efficiency and integration.
  4. Establish a pull system.  That means you start new work, only when there is demand for it.  Especially when the economy is destabilized, a pull system can help avoid the pitfalls of flawed forecasts, and inventory swings between shortages and overages.  Pull relies on flexibility and communication.  Lean manufacturing buys raw materials when there is demand.
  5. Pursue perfection through constant improvement.  Lean manufacturing requires the manufacturer to continuously work toward perfection.  This means constantly targeting the root cause of quality issues and production interruptions, and it means repeatedly discovering and eliminating waste across the value stream. 

Zagar specializes in home making machining for industries such as automotive, aerospace, electrical, medical, off-road construction equipment, hydraulic, pneumatic and high-production drilling and tapping.  Blending high endurance with high speed production, Zagar can save both time and labor in your production process.  Visit Zagar.com, email to sales@Zagarinc.com or call us today at (216) 731-0500 for information on how Zagar can be a part of your lean manufacturing implementation.