Lean Production Demands Lean Tools

There is a purpose to lean manufacturing in that it helps you to eliminate any activities other than those that create actual value to the end customer. These activities are viewed as wasteful, but can be difficult to eliminate from standard process without the right lean tools in place to develop your strategy. While a number of organizations will base their lean initiatives on the Toyota manufacturing system, there are simple lean tools that will drive results for you. At the same time, they are easy to implement to enjoy the benefits right away.

Lean Tools: Pull Systems

Pull systems are commonly found among lean tools as they help to create an environment in which material or work enters a process at the same rate that it exists. This ensures that the entire process is streamlined and no time or resource is wasted. Kanban is a common pull system used in lean tools.

Lean Tools: Setup

A reduction in set up is another element within lean tools you can optimize to derive great benefit. All processes within your environment will require some sort of setup of the machines or tools. This is often measured by the total time necessary to complete the last good part to the first good part. If you can reduce this setup time, you can increase the capital availability and capacity within your environment.

Lean Tools: Productive Maintenance

If you can maximize the operational effectiveness of your manufacturing equipment, you can effectively enhance capacity while you also ensure the parts are made to the correct quality within your defined rate of production. This could include productive maintenance prevention programs and equipment that is designed to reduce maintenance while they also increase performance. Within the lean tools of production, this one is very easy to manage.

Lean Tools: Manufacturing in a Continuous Flow

Applying a continuous flow to your manufacturing involves moving material during the process from one value add process to another value add process without any buffers such as lead time, transport time or storage. This can be one of those lean tools that you want to avoid simply because you tend to rely on those buffers, but they can also be a problem when not managed properly.

Lean Tools: Error Proofing

While it should seem obvious that one of the best ways to drive lean manufacturing is to eliminate errors, this is much easier said than done. When you take a proactive approach to identify and eliminate errors before they reach another stage in the manufacturing process or the customer, however, you have eliminated unnecessary costs and ensured a better overall experience for the customer.

Lean Tools: 5s

There is nothing that can help you to better optimize your environment than organization. 5s truly helps you to organize everything within the environment to eliminate wasted time, space and processes. 5s is one of those lean tools that provide you with a process for cleaning and standardizing the workspace that ensures the workspace is only taken up by equipment and tools that are necessary to conduct the job. All tools and equipment have a standard place and can be easily found when needed.

While this is not an exhaustive list of lean tools, it does provide you with some great ideas for implementation that enable you to realize immediate results.