Embracing Lean Manufacturing Fundamentals

09/02/2016 11:300 commentsViews: 29

Here’s a stat that might surprise you — according to LNS Research, 50% of manufacturers have implemented or are implementing cross-functional groups to support their Operational Excellence journeys within a year. At the same time, only 18% have software or processes in place to deliver relevant KPIs to all personnel in real time.

The question is this: Why, by a margin of nearly 3:1, are manufacturers implementing cross-functional groups to improve operational excellence, but are not investing in the right tools to deliver needed information to execute change?

In my view, what’s missing is a focus on a fundamental principle of lean manufacturing: Measure current performance to institute continuous improvements in the process. It focuses on decreasing cycle time, reducing inventory, increasing productivity and increasing capital equipment utilization.

The problem is that a lot of manufacturing EMI and dashboarding projects turn out to be more of a science project than a structured approach to making improvements. Typically, organizations start with defining a host of measurements that can be made in order to make process improvements. That’s good. The problem is that each manufacturing site does this same exercise on their own, and without consistency.

The key is to understand what should and shouldn’t be on the dashboard, in order to provide a quick and easy overview for operations personnel to immediately understand what’s going on and to take the right action.

Learning from Others
Wouldn’t it be great if a manufacturer could learn from the mistakes and successes of another rather than having to invent everything on their own from scratch? You can!

In recent months I’ve talked with several customers and, generally speaking, they have the right foundation in place, and they have connected systems. But now they need to extract the right information and share it across your plant. To take the best actions, they need a single, up-to-date view of their entire manufacturing process.

One example is GE. Like many of our customers, we are going through our own digital transformation. Some early results show that significant benefits can be gained from the Industrial Internet. One of our manufacturing groups plans to see significant savings in material deflation, indirect labor, material productivity and logistics to the tune of about $300 million from software and other process improvements.

You can institute a performance improvement program based upon best practices for lean manufacturing with the right visualization tool, one that provides key plant production measurements for manufacturing performance.

“This is a Football” — Lean Manufacturing Basics
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi always started each season with the basics. His players were professionals, yet he always pulled out the ball, held it up high and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Similarly, we need to go back to the basic fundamentals of lean manufacturing. So let’s do that now with a lean manufacturing quality house.

A visualization solution needs to provide visibility into key aspects such as Quality Management, Delivery Times, Just in Time, and Takt time. These are the basic elements that you need to measure in order to take action and make a process improvement using lean principles.

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