LEAN Manufacturing

Easar Initiative successfully applies Lean Principles and supports Lean implementation. These principles are easily transferable and adaptable to any area of life.

Below is the article written by our intern, Ms. Aparna Rai. Read and learn more about Lean Concept.

LEAN Manufacturing Concept

Waste is typically defined as something unwanted or unusable. In today's world, waste can be considered as a by-product of human activity. When we look at mundane processes like cooking or complex processes like nuclear fission, it is clearly visible that waste is generated in each case. Accumulation of various types of wastes generated by human activity in the environment is what fundamentally defines, and continues to contribute towards, pollution. Thus, the growing need to reduce waste production is directly linked to saving our ailing planet.

Manufacturing is one of the key processes which contribute to our comfortable lifestyle. Like all other processes, it also generates waste and we need to skillfully deal with it. To efficiently minimize waste production, or to just minimize waste production we need to first define what exactly manufacturing waste is. Taiichi Ohno classifies manufacturing waste into 7 types: overproduction, inventory, overprocessing, correction, waiting, conveyance and motion. There are numerous ways to deal with those 7 basic types of manufacturing wastes, one of the most popular and successful approach is the LEAN methodology. The basic principle of LEAN is that to a consumer, any activity which does not add value (to the product) is waste. Today we can see LEAN concepts applied in many of the successful manufacturing industries.

Subsequently LEAN is not just a collection of thoughts or a specific activity, it is a methodology. While the term LEAN was coined in 1990 in the book “The machine that changed the world”, the whole methodology started to develop from as early as the 16th century. In 1574 king Henry III watched the Venetian Arsenal produce galley ships as fast as an hour. This was one of the first examples of continuous workflow and mass production. Almost two centuries later Eli Whitney perfected the concept of interchangeable parts. In 1902 Sakichi Toyoda gave us the Jidoka concept through an automatic loom which would stop working as soon as the thread broke. This gave the machine somewhat human intelligence (popularly known as autonomation). The year 1910 proved to be a year of breakthrough for manufacturing industries due to the “official” introduction of the concept of mass production by Henry Ford. In 1910 Henry Ford moved to Highland Park and mass produced the famous model T. This marked the birth of the LEAN concept. A year later Sakichi Toyoda visited the US to study the production of Ford model T. In 1938 Toyota adapted the JIT (Just in time) concept which reduces inventory costs by using/having goods only when they are required for production thereby increasing efficiency as well. In 1949, which was another important year in the development of the LEAN concept, Taiichi Ohno was promoted to shop floor manager and began to inculcate all of the above-mentioned concepts in the TPS (Toyota production system).

In the following years, the company flourished. The TPS was translated from Japanese to English in 1975 and was officially recognized as the best waste reduction methodology in 1990 by Dr. James Womack and his team. Toyota was by far the most efficient manufacturing company of that time and that was only thanks to the LEAN concept. While it may be reasonable to consider the TPS and the LEAN concept as on and the same it is important to keep in mind that the LEAN concept was derived from the TPS. LEAN deals with 3 types of waste issues: waste created through manufacturing (Muda), overburden (muri) and irregularity of work (mura). Muda is further classified into its 7 types. LEAN has two major principles: continuous improvement and respect for others. Continuous improvement can be achieved by following 3 easy steps- challenging oneself every day, knowing that there is always room for improvement(kaizen) and that problems cannot be solved from afar (Genchi Genbutsu). Respect for others is a very common principle which includes teamwork skills.

Apart from these, there are other useful LEAN tools like the 5s (sore, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain), Value stream mapping (mapping to help us “see” the waste), Kanban(a sign system) and so on. It is important to mention that there are various waste reduction methodologies in the world, a good example is the six sigma concept, LEAN is more specific to waste reduction in manufacturing. It does not have set step by step methods but rather a general overview of what each method should result in which gives it room for development. The LEAN concept, unlike others, does not provide a direction but rather a destination. It is timeless as we can always find new and different routes to achieve our goal: waste reduction.

#easar #LEAN #Sustainabledevelopment

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