Reducing waste, implementing efficiency-promoting practices, and continuously improving operations are the main goals of lean manufacturing ideology. These tasks may seem daunting for a manufacturer at the start of an improvement program, but there are many concrete steps that can be taken to shift the culture at any company.

For many companies, all it takes to dramatically increase efficiency and reduce waste is a commitment to dive right in and a willingness to try new and creative ideas to find out what works best. If you are able to simplify your manufacturing tasks, increase spatial and workflow organization, take steps to reduce errors, and listen to employees on the manufacturing floor, your company will begin to see reduced waste, improved employee morale, improved efficiency, and a greater ability to manufacture products on a predictable timetable.

The following tips can help send you on your way toward all of these goals and change the way your company operates to be ready for improvement at all times.

Simplify manufacturing tasks

At the heart of waste reduction and increased efficiency is simplifying manufacturing tasks. Without a critical eye toward opportunities for simplification, manufacturing tasks throughout your operations become inefficient, which can lead to wasted time and resources, inconsistent product quality, and a number of other negative outcomes. Finding an appropriate method for simplifying manufacturing tasks is therefore an important first step in any company’s improvement.

Take, for example, Butler Automatic, the inventor of the zero-speed, nonstop automatic film splicer. Butler equipment eliminates downtime due to web changes for the packaging industry. Given that promoting efficiency is a key part of Butler’s business, the principles of lean are integral to the company’s own manufacturing practices.

When Butler Automatic began to solidify its commitment to lean manufacturing practices, it had to find a simplification method that was right for its specific type of manufacturing. Because Butler builds configured machines and products that are all the same conceptually but each is slightly different to be perfectly tailored to its end use, a practice known as cellular manufacturing was implemented. Cellular manufacturing is highly useful for companies that build machines that must be configured exactly right the first time.

Implementation of cellular manufacturing at Butler Automatic has simplified manufacturing tasks and led to reduced waste of time and materials.

With this method, cells are set up on the manufacturing floor for each step in the manufacturing process and for each different component of the final product. The individual cells are tailored to their function in terms of materials, tools, and design. In this way, efficiency is increased and waste reduced because all the appropriate materials and tools are already at workers’ fingertips.

Cellular manufacturing also calls for the same process to be followed each time a certain part is produced or altered. Possible errors are reduced by this increased repetition, and operator training is made simpler. Perhaps most important to the lean manufacturing process, repetition makes it easier to make iterative changes and track whether these changes have a positive effect on the overall efficiency of the process. Continuous improvement will be addressed later on in this article, but it is a key component of every aspect of lean manufacturing practices.

Although cellular manufacturing isn’t the only way to simplify manufacturing operations, it is one of the most effective and provides an excellent example for the positive outcomes that can result from implementing lean practices. Cellular manufacturing may be right for your business, or you may want to try to find a different way to simplify tasks. Either way, finding a way to simplify your manufacturing process that leads to repeatable quality and easily traceable results is an important first step in improvement.

Increase organization

In addition to simplifying processes, organizing your manufacturing floor and workflow can greatly increase efficiency. Spatial organization of tools, materials, and manufacturing space cuts down on search and transport times. Neat and orderly workspaces help workers to feel more relaxed and enable them to work quickly and efficiently. General cleanliness from dirt, dust, and spills is important, and not just because of the positive effect on worker morale; cleanliness improves workers’ safety and final product quality. Cleanliness is fairly easy to maintain if cleaning supplies are visible and readily available. Organization, on the other hand, usually requires a more codified system.


Source :