Lean manufacturing is the production practice (often simply called “Lean”) that considers it wasteful to expend resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer. Lean manufacturing is a common strategy employed by manufacturers to increase production efficiency, reduce operating costs, and raise the quality of finished goods. With its focus on reducing waste, lean manufacturing complements today’s sustainability initiatives.
While “manual lean” initiatives have reduced waste in production and benefited manufacturers, computer-based lean activities facilitated by lean manufacturing software offer greater benefits. Lean production software is incorporated in a manufacturing operations management (MOM) system. Specifically, aspects of lean manufacturing undergird functional aspects of advanced planning and scheduling (APS)manufacturing execution systems (MES) and quality management systems (QMS). Lean manufacturing software has proven to simultaneously improve yields and throughput while reducing operating costs.
According to the practice of lean manufacturing, as waste is eliminated, quality improves while production time and cost are reduced. Some of the tools of lean facilitated by lean manufacturing software include:
Lean production planning and lean production scheduling are sometimes viewed as sets of tools that assist in the identification and steady elimination of waste, known by the Japanese term “muda.” Each kind of waste can be reduced or eliminated through MOM-based lean manufacturing software.
Defects create waste because of both the inspection efforts required to find defects and the corrective actions needed to fix or remove them. With lean manufacturing software, manufacturers can easily search for and contain nonconforming material before defects are formed. Through error-proofing and “right first time” efforts, lean production planning and manufacturing execution software ensures that:
Overproduction generates waste by raising costs associated with work in progress (WIP) and inventory. Through advanced planning and scheduling software, lean manufacturing practices more closely link customer orders and work orders. Lean production planning and scheduling enable better work prioritization and time management through real-time visibility of order status and inventory levels.
Waiting is wasteful in that idle time for equipment and personnel reduces productivity and throughput. Lean production planning and scheduling software enables manufacturers to improve the synchronization of operators, material handlers, maintenance, and production steps. Data infrastructure that supports lean manufacturing software provides the means for immediate communication, also reducing idle time.
Inventory of materials, components, WIP and finished products wastes space and time devoted to movement and storage, and also raises the likelihood of materials expiring before they can be used. Lean manufacturing minimizes inventory by creating a pull-system that limits the queues at each operation and by enforcing FIFO/LIFO rules. The software provides visibility that increases the accuracy of WIP and finished goods inventories.
Transportation becomes wasteful when materials and documentation are moved unnecessarily or over longer distances. Lean manufacturing software optimizes material movement and eliminates paper documentation, so that information travels at digital speeds.
Overprocessing creates waste by multiplying the number of times a WIP or finished good is worked on or handled. Lean manufacturing software reduces overprocessing by eliminating manual data entry and making data and analytical results immediately accessible.
Motion is wasteful when processing involves unnecessary movement of equipment or personnel. Lean manufacturing software eliminates unnecessary movement by:
To implement lean manufacturing, companies typically follow a sequence of five practices or principles. Lean manufacturing uses this five-step process to create continuous improvement:
By reducing or eliminating wasteful activities, lean manufacturing software increases the productivity of a manufacturing facility.