Lean manufacturing strategies

Two Lean Manufacturing Strategies Worth Trying

Lean manufacturing has been around for quite some time and is a philosophy of production known for embracing innovation. For instance, Henry Ford sought to make his operation lean when he invented the assembly line. But, the philosophy of lean manufacturing as we know it today, and its name, were first identified in the 1980s.

Lean manufacturing techniques are known to reduce waste, increase savings and establish an organizational strategy capable of sustained growth.

Here are three strategies for lean manufacturing that have a place in today’s technologically driven manufacturing world.

Energy Consumption

Looking beyond fossil driven energy is one way to increase sustainability and save money. Letterhead Press Inc chose to install solar panels. With government incentives as well as local energy company discounts, the company found that installing and upgrading their facility for solar was not as costly as they first thought.

Additionally, the company has saved money. According to GM News:

Lean Manager John Davis said New Berlin-based LPI has been able to reduce consumption by 40 percent in recent years. Previously, the company’s annual electricity bill was $275,000 and is now down to about $250,000 due to the decreased consumption – even as the company increased production.

Although this may not seem like a staggering amount of savings, to a small company like Letterhead Press, the savings make a difference.

Visualization and Gamification

Solar energy is one way to keep overhead costs lean, but what’s going on inside the warehouse is equally (if not more) important. One of the essential tenets of lean manufacturing is that employees know exactly what is expected of them. Keeping clear goals facilitates employee engagement and promotes effective time management. In a lean system, no time should be wasted.

As Steven Banker writes in Forbes:

The workers then need to know how they are doing against those goals over the course of the day using clear visual management techniques.

Though Banker cites the importance of prominently displayed dry erase boards, to bring visual management into the present analog displays aren’t enough to keep workers visually engaged in their progress.

The rise of gamification and the use of mobile devices on the manufacturing floor allow workers to chart their progress updates in real-time.

In all, lean manufacturing strategies that incorporate personnel management and facility upgrades increase profits and decrease waste.