Lean Manufacturing
Manufacturing and distribution operations management consulting firm offering state-of-the-art technologies and methods to companies world-wide

RCG University

Lean Manufacturing

Definition

Lean Manufacturing is an operational strategy oriented toward achieving the shortest possible cycle time by eliminating waste. It is derived from the Toyota Production System and its key thrust is to increase the value-added work by eliminating waste and reducing incidental work. The technique often decreases the time between a customer order and shipment, and it is designed to radically improve profitability, customer satisfaction, throughput time, and employee morale.

The benefits generally are lower costs, higher quality, and shorter lead times.  The term "lean manufacturing" is coined to represent half the human effort in the company, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools, and half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time.

The characteristics of lean processes are:

  • Single-piece production
  • Repetitive order characteristics
  • Just-In-Time materials/pull scheduling
  • Short cycle times
  • Quick changeover
  • Continuous flow work cells
  • Collocated machines, equipment,tools and people
  • Compressed space
  • Multi-skilled employees
  • Flexible workforce
  • Empowered employees
  • High first-pass yields with major reductions in defects
  • Lean Manufacturing incorporates the use of Heijunka, level sequential flow, Takt time, the heartbeat or pace of the production system, continuous flow manufacturing, cellular manufacturing, and pull production scheduling techniques such as Kanban.

    Please see our Lean Manufacturing success stories:

    Lean Manufacturing: Redesigning The Plant for 10 Second Takt Time

    Lean Manufacturing: Reengineering the plant for Lean Production for an Electro-mechanical Manufacturer


    The Issues

    Lean Manufacturing is in direct opposition with traditional manufacturing approaches characterized by use of economic order quantities, high capacity utilization, and high inventory. In changing from a traditional environment to one of lean production, cultural issues will emerge quickly, as well as resistance to change. A managing change program is needed to accompany the effort.

    Piecemeal approaches generally do not work or achieve significant results. Quite often we will hear top executives claiming to be using Lean Manufacturing strategies and when we visit the site, we will discover a pilot cell off in a corner. Wide scale use produces wide scale results, and very little true results will be achieved if Lean Manufacturing is treated as a "fad of the month."

    However, just like anything else, Lean Manufacturing is no panacea, nor should it be embraced as a religion. It is an operational strategy that, if implemented properly, will provide a new dimension to competing: quickly introducing new customerized high quality products and delivering them with unprecedented lead times, swift decisions, and manufacturing products with high velocity.


    Pragmatic Applications

    Lean Manufacturing techniques have been around for a long time and can greatly simplify a production process. Benefits are real and long proven. The phrase was coined in the 1980's taking examples from the successes used in the Toyota Production System. Although it has wider applications, it is best used in a repetitive or continuous production environment.


    Our Approach: Tools from a Toolchest

    Rockford Consulting Group applies concepts and technologies as the situation warrants, that will result in the ultimate benefit to our clients. We treat strategies, technologies, and methodologies as tools in a toolchest, and use them when they offer practical solutions and achievable results. We believe that each client situation is unique, with its own unique set of solutions.(Please see our lean manufacturing consulting services Lean Manufacturing Consulting Services )


    Why Us?

    Rockford Consulting Group can provide long-term assistance to many companies in a variety of industries. The firm has a cadre of the best supply chain consultants in the world today, providing high quality professionalism through the use of experience and innovation.

    We subscribe to the Institute of Management Consultants Code of Professional Conduct. All consultants engaged on projects adhere to its principles. Whenever possible we will use consultants certified in their particular specialty area. Certification assures that consultants have substantial prior experience in their specialty, and their competencies have been tested by the IMC, and verified by a number of clients. This assures our clients that we are assigning the highest qualified consultants in the profession.

    We provide technical expertise, team facilitation, leadership, and direction in deciding how you will meet the challenge. We refer you to our Qualification Statement for further details on our background, areas of specialization, concepts and technologies applied, staffing, operating policy, approach, companies and industries served, case studies and references. Equally as important, we train our clients to sustain new methods of manufacturing and the consequential benefits over time. Your company will benefit directly from this training.

    We have achieved an efficiency in our approach to assignments that allows us to provide high quality technical and managerial advice in a much shorter amount of time than could be accomplished years ago. We are able to do this because of the extensive consulting experience that each of our specialists has.

    1999 Rockford Consulting Group, Ltd.

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