Lean production


The craftsman type of production was replaced by more efficient mass production on the eve of Industrial Revolution. Soon after World War II, the Japanese introduced a new approach to manufacturing called ‘Lean Production.’ It transfers the maximum number of tasks to those workers who actually created value on the line. It also has a fault finding system that traces the clause of fault. Lean production requires multi-skilled workers. And this places premium on training and development. In lean production, non-value adding functions are identified and discontinued. In lean production approach, there is focus on core competencies, flexibility, speed, integration of design and operations and the right people.

Tenets of lean Production

1. Produce with as few people, as little inventory and as little waste as possible.
2. Each production stage processes exactly what the next stage wants, and when it wants it. The quality processed is exactly what the next stage wants.
3. Variety in products can be accommodated avoiding the change-over costs involved in customized mass production.
4. Sourcing, production, marketing, accounting and strategic planning — all these areas comes under the purview of the lean concept.

Lean Production is invented by Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno on the shop-floor of Toyota Motor Corp. Its objective is to build a lean-shop floor — lean on people, on processes, on inventories and on time. Lean production can be adapted to out competitive strategy which could be either lowest-cost production or high-product variety. Its direct pay-offs is the dramatically reduced costs.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing concept was conceived by Toyota Corporation of Japan in the 1950s. Since then, it has been widely adopted by others. Lean makes a company flab-free.

Lean mathematics works by subtraction which actually results into additions. Process profitability is improved by reducing the workers operating a process. Inventory is reduced and so also the production cost by cutting the number of processes in manufacturing or product-design. We become competitive by reducing the non-value added activities in the supply chain. Lean redefines the corporation’s means, methods and missions. Lean challenges what is being practiced currently. Senior executives must be involved in shop-floor activity to introduce the lean philosophy. In lean pricing, the non-value added activities (NVAs) are excluded. To introduce the lean philosophy, a company must understand its value chain. In lean production, the daily production demand is synchronized with the total production time available. Lean also emphasizes a single-piece flow by dividing its activities into cells, which typically employ U-shaped lines where a part goes through all intermediate processes to turn it into a sub-assembly.

Here the problem remains confined to a specific cell only. Lean advocates defect detection by low-cost tools automatically to prevent defective items from flowing along. Lean integrates just-in-time supply of components. Lean also believes in kaizen — the continuous improvements.