Lean manufacturing: The practical approach to productivity

Tags: lean manufacturing

A lean manufacturing initiative focuses on cost reduction and increases in turnover by systematically and continuously eliminating non-value-added activities. In today's competitive market, lean is turning out to be "the solution" to manufacturing industries across the spectrum for survival and success.

Lean manufacturing helps organizations to achieve targeted productivity and more by introduction of easy-to-apply and maintainable techniques and tools. Its focus on waste reduction and elimination enables it to be engrained into organization culture and turns every process into a profit center. Thousands of companies worldwide have achieved tremendous productivity and return on investments by implementing lean practices and techniques. India has witnessed many success stories in its automotive, process and other industries.

In a nutshell, lean manufacturing is all about driving toward achieving profitability and productivity through continuous improvement and resource waste elimination. It is an organizational culture as well as specific practices with clear goals.

The road map to lean manufacturing and its benefits were discussed at a recent seminar hosted by Bangalore, India-based Axcend Automation & Software, a manufacturing IT solutions company. Senior-level delegates from various multinational and national companies pitched in with their perspective on lean during this half-day event.

In today’s competitive world, while large-scale companies have taken the first steps to implement lean in their organizations, small and medium establishments (SMEs) also need to follow the lean thinking and implement the same to achieve their set goals.

S.D. Janakiram, lean advisor for public-sector enterprise HAL, set the theme for the event, mentioning that the company has embraced “Sampoorna Paravarthan” (complete change) to implement lean. He reiterated the fact that implementing lean is a collective achievement, where every single member’s dedication and perseverance makes it a success. Lean is about achievement orientation and execution excellence. There is a need for shift in thinking to “a zero tolerance for waste”. Persistence for improvement, learning by doing, attitudinal changes and teamwork, along with emphasis to bring value quickly and remove waste continuously, form the essence of lean.

Mr. Janakiram concluded by saying that the mantra for success has four Ps – Purpose & Process as intellectual issues connected to the brain and Pride & Passion gives the heart dimension.

While lean is to be definitely achieved, how can it be done? What are the tools required? Providing answers to this was Gary Flum, the general manager for advanced manufacturing systems at QAD. Taking into account QAD’s longstanding relationship with manufacturing industry, Flum gave the enterprise IT perspective of achieving lean. He presented the lean solution available from QAD that could be implemented even in SMEs. He started off with the evolution of the automotive industry, mentioning that the dichotomy of successful manufacturing is cost and innovation. Plotting a curve of value associated with phases of innovation, Flum mentioned that the challenge is to keep the value derived through innovation growing; continuous innovation allows you to stay ahead of the cycle of common acceptance.

Flum went on to present how overhead costs in an enterprise were directly reduced due to implementation of lean. He concluded by mentioning that lean manufacturing focuses on the value stream and by showing the advantages of implementing lean and just-in-time in manufacturing.

Lean is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS), hence it was definitely relevant for Toyota to speak on this. T.R. Parasuraman, general manager of Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts (TKAP) spoke about best practices of manufacturing and its benefits. Elimination of three Ms – muri, mura and Muda – is important and forms the basis of TPS. Touching upon the 5-S methods, Parasuraman reiterated the need to passionately practice it to achieve global standards. If quality is lost, everything is lost. Emphasis on quality is supreme and any failure needs to be analyzed in depth to get the root cause.

“Rejection is a treasure” said Parasuraman, reiterating the Toyota way of handling quality problems. He concluded by offering his Ten Commandments of Quality.

Overall, the delegates were enabled with the seminar’s objective for inducing and practicing lean thinking. Today, it is relevant that any organization that has set its goal to be a global player or a regional leader has to incorporate changes to be productive and competitive. Lean manufacturing shows the way to that goal.

This article provided by Axcend Automation & Software Solutions, an enterprise manufacturing IT solution provider focused exclusively on manufacturing and utilities sector, offering end-to-end solutions for adaptive manufacturing environment with sensor-to-boardroom management concept.