5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing | Matics

The Five Principles of Lean Manufacturing and How They Improve Manufacturing Operations


Lean manufacturing methodologies are essential for any manufacturer’s success today. The principles of lean manufacturing provide manufacturers with a framework and system to increase efficiency by reducing numerous types of material, energy, labor, and time wastes at key points through their operations. The five principles of lean manufacturing are what guide the implementation of this production method. These lean principles are:  

  1. Define value
  2. Map the stream of value
  3. Create flow
  4. Establish pull
  5. Seek perfection

These 5 principles of lean enabled countless organizations around the world to improve their operations. Today, they are considered some of the most important principles of manufacturing, and companies are always seeking new systems and tools to implement them more effectively. Here is what these lean manufacturing principles mean and how they help manufacturers become more efficient. 

1. Identify Value

The first principle of the lean manufacturing system is the need to clearly and accurately identify value. Value is one of the most important lean manufacturing concepts. In lean manufacturing, value is defined from the perspective of the customer, and identifying value requires careful insight into what those customers’ needs are and how they view any product or service.

This plays a key role in optimizing processes and reducing waste. By knowing what it is that the customers value and what it is they’re actually paying for, manufacturers are able to commit resources more effectively.

For example, there could be certain quality criteria that are readily apparent to managers, engineers, and operators but simply do not affect how the customer views the product. Committing QA resources to deal with these issues is simply wasting them. By identifying the aspects of the product that actually influence the customer’s decision, manufacturers can focus on those criteria instead.

Of course, value isn’t simply about what a customer likes or doesn’t like. There are other considerations to be had, notably safety and regulatory requirements. These create a baseline that can’t be ignored even when customers don’t understand or value these criteria.

2. Map the Stream of Value

With the knowledge of what value really is for their given product, manufacturers can begin to implement lean management principles to start moving toward a more efficient process. To do so, they must develop a better understanding of how that value is created and which steps are vital to ensuring it.

By mapping the individual steps that create value, manufacturers will be able to eliminate steps that do not contribute. Steps that don’t contribute value can still be necessary, though, due to safety and regulatory requirements. However, there are some steps that this process can identify that will not be necessary. These can be removed from the process, saving the manufacturer the materials, energy, time, and money that would have otherwise been wasted.

The key principles of lean manufacturing allow a manufacturer to strip away unnecessary steps while still ensuring that they deliver what it is that their customers truly value about their products.

3. Create Flow

Simply eliminating steps that don’t add value isn’t enough to achieve complete lean principle implementation. Manufacturers need to further optimize the steps that do add value by creating efficient flow from step to step.

That means they need to evaluate transitions between processing steps in order to identify where time and other resources are being wasted. Delays and bottlenecks can lead to the accumulation of excess intermediary stock between steps or reduced OEE when machines don’t have materials from previous steps when they need them.

To achieve the highest benefit from lean concepts and principles, manufacturers must implement more level production, ensuring that all steps have the necessary flow to avoid bottlenecking the process. This can be challenging in many manufacturing environments, with manufacturers needing new solutions to truly optimize their processes.

4. Establish Pull

Lean manufacturing principles include many common elements with the Toyota Way and just-in-time manufacturing, which laid the framework upon which modern lean manufacturing methods are built. One of these concepts is pull, the practice of fulfilling customer work orders as needed rather than relying on large inventories based on forecasting.

Manufacturers that implement pull systems don’t require the warehousing and inventory management that others do, saving considerable resources. They also become more agile by developing a system that responds to demand dynamically. While a manufacturer that relies too much on inventory might struggle to fulfill orders if sales increase, those with pull systems can adapt quickly.

Implementing these lean production principles is by no means easy. Manufacturers need to be agile if they are to make effective use of a pull system. They need to be able to react to and make changes on the factory floor faster to keep up with demand.

5. Seek Perfection

Finally, lean production principles require that a manufacturer commits to continuous improvement. Implementing the previous four pillars of lean manufacturing isn’t a one-time project for a company. It’s an ongoing commitment to continue evaluating and optimizing production processes to keep improving efficiency and reducing waste.

By continuing to identify value, map value streams, create value, and establish pull, a manufacturer can further reduce waste and improve OEE as time goes on. That way, they will avoid the stagnation and regression that can often come after other production methods that focus on one-time changes and solutions.

Changing the way people work in factories
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Implementing the fundamental Elements of Lean Manufacturing With Matics

In order to reap the benefits of lean manufacturing, organizations need the right systems and tools to implement lean principles effectively. Matics provides a robust Real-time Operational Intelligence solution that enables manufacturers to gain the understanding and insight into their production that’s needed to achieve continuous improvement through lean manufacturing.

Matics lets manufacturers develop a better understanding of value streams by aggregating and analyzing production data from all available sources. They can then see where and how resources are being used in real-time and historically to better evaluate processes.

Real-time data and alerts create a more agile factory floor that can successfully meet the demands of a pull system, with the ability to react quickly to new demands and resolve issues without latency. The wealth of KPIs and other production data and analysis that Matics provides lets manufacturers commit to continuous process improvement and optimization.

You can contact Matics today to schedule a demo and see how our solution can help you implement lean manufacturing principles.

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