Fundamental to the concept of leanness is the need to eliminate unnecessary duplication and waste. The Toyota Production System is indeed the best illustration of lean manufacturing. The main ideology behind this mode of production is that there should be a continuousimprovement, in the process of identifying and elimination of waste (mendes, 2011, p.76) In this case, wastes refers to the processes that do not add value but instead, account for an increase in the costs. Storage and warehousing design are to be structured in order to reduce wastes associated with excess inventory. Mendes (2011, p.77) puts across several means through which such wastes could be reduced. He emphasizes on the use of the pull system instead of the push system,whereby, manufacturers produce only what is needed by the customer, inparts. Thisway, there would be no need for production to stock. He also emphasizes the implementation of batch size reduction. In this case, continuous improvement is facilitated in order to reduce the amount of work in progress which in turn helps to reduce the associated inventory plus costs. Thisway, the overall production cycle is reduced thus leading to quicker delivery and sooner invoicing.
In relation to the production facility layout, lean system advocates that the progressive production lines be established. Thisway, standard tasks can be accomplished insequential manner as well as in a progressive channel. (Hobbs,2004, p.109)In regards to this, Hobbs(2004, p.109) strongly emphasizes that all the necessary processes in the production of a product should be physically linked together in order to permit the distribution, accumulation and balancing of tasks through out the manufacturing cycle. Thisway, a systematic flow will be created therefore enabling all the processes to ratchet downstream systematically.
In order to meet the lean objectives of productivity, flexibility, speed of turnaround, as well as best quality, it is very necessary to consider the element of supplier interactions. (Stober&Hansmann, 2010, p.36).This way, problems associated with late deliveries, defects in the raw materials and supply of incorrect orders will be significantly reduced.Sabri &Shaikh (2009, p.4), incurthat, these interactions help in the innovation and improvement in the production processes since both parties tend to relate as one firm. Additionally, cost reduction is achieved through improvement and transportation by third party logistics can be better optimized through consolidation, routing and mode selection.
In order to increase an opportunity for greater efficiency in terms of problem solving and delivery, team work is a very vital element. Unlike mass production, team work is highly encouraged with the team members being viewed as very important resources to the company in the attainment of company goals. Watson’s study (as cited in Liker 1997, p.487) indicatesthat, in order for the staff to exhibit proper team work on the shop floor, it has to be attributed to training and development.
However,the desire to move away from batch and push production into a lean material flow is what creates the need and an environment for teams. Suppliers and customers alike are all part of a group in relation to the lean mode of production. Watson’s study (as cited in Womack et al, 1990) concludes that the systematic flow of materials in the lean industry is streamlined through team work. In this case therefore, quality and productivity are continuously enhanced through the participation of the team members, which involves the constant involvement of the employees. Not only is this beneficial to the company in terms of cost reduction and quality products, the company’s employees are thoroughly empowered in the decision process and therefore, motivated to achieve better results in relation to performance. In the same regardstherefore, due to the practice of participativemanagement, better quality and suitable processes are enhanced.
Through the involvement of workers in management decisions, top management is made aware of small but significant problems that may arise in the working environment. This in turn helps in the implementation of practical solutions and as such, workers are attached and integrated to the company, thus boasting their loyalty status. (Wincel, 2004, p.214)
In the lean system of manufacturing, the “pay for” element is a successful tool to improvement. However, there is limited knowledge in regards to the “know how” aspects. This therefore implies that lean system is quite inadequate in addressing a set of problems in relation to statistical control or measurement systems. This is where the six sigma element comes into play. Despite the fact that they take longer to learn, they are very vital in the solving the most complicated problems. The six sigma element could therefore be integrated with the lean manufacturing system in order to addresses whether or not the measurement systems need adjustment and help to bring processes under control. (Devane, 2004)
Dudbridge(2011) classifies Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as the most common measure of measuring manufacturing performance. He emphasizes the need to measure the O.E.E in order to know how much the machine or production line made. In relation to lean system therefore, it is necessary to integrate the OEE tool since it is an important measure of how effective the total productivity of a company is. Hermant (2011, p.300).This way, the actual improvements in relation to the 5-s in lean manufacturing can be appropriately measured in regards to the manufacturing processes of availability, performance and quality.
Hansen &Mowen(2011,p.751 )describe the dock to dock principle as the time to produce a unit of output, in relation to the time period covered between receiving of the raw materials to the delivery of the finished goods. However, in the lean mode of production, there is no finished goods inventory as goods are delivered to the customers once their production is complete. In regards to the lean principle of manufacturing, the principle could therefore be equated to mean the time required in order to produce a product or an out put. In application mode therefore, management could use the dock to dock time to investigate the cycle time in production in relation to the company’s processes. This way, excess time can be reduced in order to increase velocity so as to improve delivery performance.
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