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  • Igor Kondrasovas

Introduction to Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing teach us there are wastes in our production processes that must be identified and eliminated. There is a lot of scattered information out there, that may unfortunately let us start doing things without even know why we are doing them.

This is why I always like to go back to the basics, read some organized theory to wrap up all these information out there.

Bob Warfield put together a multi-part series that introduces the guiding principles of Lean Manufacturing.

The series starts with the main types of wastes we can identify in manufacturing and some of the tools and methodologies we can use to not just reduce theses wastes but avoiding them.

On the second part is about 5S: Organize for Productivity. Although this is not something new, we are talking about senses here. Senses are something that must be developed instead of being treated as a task. So it takes time to absorb these practices in our day.

The next part is about Kaizen and continuous productivity. It is also a daily process instead of something you start and finish.

Part 4 is about value stream mapping, that is a method for analyzing the current state and designing a future stated for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through the customer.

Later on, the principles of Standard Work and Takt Time are discussed. It is the lean approach for documenting and following best practices for a particular manufacturing process which are subject to continuous improvement as new ways to eliminate waste are discovered.

On part 6, Single Minute Exchange of Dies or SMED principle is to provide a rapid and efficient way of a manufacturing process from running the current product to running the next product. It is about rapid changeover and flow improvement. Think about how long time do you take to change the tires of your car comparing with a racing pit stop.

Next, we will learn about Kanban Visual Scheduling for lean and just in time production. While some think of it as an inventory control system, it is more of a logistical chain control system.

On part 8, there is a very interesting explanation about how lean manufacturing fits on job shops. This may be very interesting to readers dedicated to plate and board cutting services and nesting software users.

Then, on part 9, a Visual Factory and ways to reduce communication waste are discussed. It is al about using visual techniques to minimize communication waste. The simpler and more convenient we make our communications, the more likely they'll be successful.

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