By Adina Moloman
Most of the manufacturing companies are willing to implement an effective competitive strategy in order to reduce costs, obtain higher profits and at the same time meet the customer requirements. Those that do so are embracing the lean philosophy. The traditional way of understanding lean manufacturing is based on the optimization of production processes within a company by eliminating waste.
The traditional approach of lean production is considering about ten categories of waste that need to be monitored: the existence of large inventory of unsold stock, the total production that should not be more that consumers demand; the lag time between production steps; the efficiency of transporting the materials or any kind of goods used in the production process, the work efficiencies; make the product right the first time and avoid fixing production mistakes and a few others categories that are strictly related to the workforce and how they can be efficient.
The new approach of lean manufacturing is based on finding efficiencies, on problem solving and constant improving (embracing changes) of the whole process. The new concept is moving from the principle of waste removal to a new approach of an uninterrupted flow in the manufacturing process. The key element in this approach is the common worker. The lean philosophy is now empowering the worker. For instance the floor employees knows how important is to keep the production lines going and in case of any unexpected shutdown all of them are gathering to develop a rescue plan and act according to their plan. They now understand the basic principle of lean manufacturing and that is to make the product and services flow without interruption across the value stream.
This new approach is also considering making small and sustainable changes that the people who actually work with the processes, equipment, and materials will better fit the change rather than making rapid, irregular changes that are disruptive to the workplace.
There are many techniques and tools to apply the Lean philosophy starting with Kaizen, Value Stream Map, Brainstorming, Cause and Effect Diagrams, just to mention a few. Most of the companies manufacturing in Mexico are implementing lean techniques in their production processes. The key element to apply these lean principles is the commitment of everyone in the organization in order for the manufacturing process to become effective.