Lean Production: The Way to Efficient and Faster Production

Lean Production: The Way to Efficient and Faster Production

Lean production is the creation of an efficient flow of process and production within a manufacturing set-up. It involves the selection of the appropriate lean design that meets your company’s specific requirements.

Those manufacturers with lean manufacturing layout are more competitive in delivering products on a tight timeline than those manufacturers who don’t.

Why Is It Important To Adopt Lean Manufacturing?

Aside from giving you a competitive edge, here are the reasons to adopt lean manufacturing:

Safety for Your Employees

Since the lean factory layout takes a seamless design, you can reduce the risk of accidents during production. A lean plan eliminates unwanted obstacles in the production process. As a result, it promotes a safe workplace that is also conducive to productivity.

Expedite Work in Progress

The priority of lean manufacturing is to remove unnecessary obstacles during production. This elimination of barriers expedites work in progress. With fast production and quality products, you can exceed customer’s expectation.

Eliminates Waste

With lean manufacturing, you can reduce wastages. An efficient process results in inefficient use of resources. The result of the waste reduction is equivalent to cut costs. Reduced costs mean competitive pricing for your company.

Easy and Hassle-free Maintenance

With every piece of equipment in its appropriate place, maintenance of factory space becomes easier than usual. You don’t need to waste your valuable resources on repairs after one employee accidentally trips on your equipment. Instead, you’d be spending your resources on valuable investment such as improving the technology of your production.

Increased Production Output

Lean production is about the effective use of time and factory space. Since your employees concentrate on producing goods, you can increase the output. You will have the resources to buy more raw materials.

The ultimate objective of adopting a lean manufacturing layout is to increase customer satisfaction. With satisfied customers, you can ensure the success of your manufacturing company.

Approaches to Lean Manufacturing

The two strategies of lean manufacturing are the Greenfield and the Brownfield method.

The Greenfield method is when you set up your new lean factory on a clean slate. It means you will transfer the production with modern machinery and new factory space. While this approach is straightforward, it is not often practical for existing manufacturing company.

The Greenfield requires financial resources, and many manufacturers can’t afford to spend more money on new equipment and plants. Sometimes, you can use your existing hardware and transfer to another location with the lean layout in place. However, the downtime of production isn’t economical for many manufacturing companies

The Brownfield approach doesn’t require new equipment or a new factory plant. It uses your existing equipment and factory plant but with a new improved layout.

The step-by-step process discussed in the next section focuses on the brownfield approach. This approach is more economical and practical.

How to Set up a Lean Factory

Gather information and evaluate your existing equipment and factory layout

Before beginning any changes in your factory, re-evaluate your process and arrangement. This process gives you an overall view of what to change and how to go over the lean design. In this step, you can identify strengths to incorporate and weaknesses to improve.

You can set up back up plans, identify goals and plan alternatives. Your goal in this step is to create a lean plan that is implementable in the shortest period.

Select the right people to work out your lean layout

You’ll need a lean team. With a lean organization, it’s easier to identify problems along the way. You can delegate important tasks to people with the necessary expertise.

Your team may compose of core people, support team and senior leaders. The core people are in charge of the primary task of creating a lean layout. They’ll be the individuals who will concentrate on building your lean layout. These people will work daily to come up with the best design for your manufacturing needs.

The support team may not be working on a daily basis in the creation of the design. However, their output is essential. Their contribution is to provide the necessary input in the re-engineering of your process. These people are usually the head of every department in your manufacturing process.

The senior leaders are the policy-making body of your company. They should understand why you’re making the necessary move to becoming a lean enterprise.

Provide training for your lean team

Training may be redundant, but it provides a refresher to your team members. It threshes out any problems regarding the implementation of the layout. With training, you can identify if an individual is fit for the position you’ve assigned during the lean process.

Conduct meetings to monitor progress

Regular meeting to track progress is essential for the success of lean manufacturing. With regular meetings, you can address problems that may arise. In this step, you can communicate the alternatives in case your company needs subcontractors to fill up manufacturing downtime during the change.

Lean production is a process that involves critical tasks. These tasks may include effective communication, identification of potential problems or knowing when to abandon inefficient alternatives.

The creation of lean design may include the use of application and methodologies. The proper identification of these methodologies is crucial to the success of your lean enterprise.

Six Sigma and How to Use It

Six Sigma and How to Use It

A little-known secret in production and manufacturing is that you can actually break down every part of a process to mathematical and logical sequences. With a few changes in the process, the best possible outcomes can be drawn with a 99.99% consistency.

There are a number of techniques and tools used to ensure this level of improvement. However, what has been the most consistent is the process known as Six Sigma.

What is Six Sigma?

It is basically a set of strategies meant to help manufacturers and producers ensure quality in their outputs using a number of statistical and empirical methods. It mainly helps to allow businesses to identify flaws in their processes, removing these, and minimizing further signs of variability in the overall manufacturing system.

The strategy owes its existence back to engineer Bill Smith who laid down the basics during his tenure at Motorola in 1980. Jack Welsh further improved on the concept when he worked for General Electric in 1995 as part of his central business strategy.

The System

Understanding how the Six Sigma process works can be rather confusing for non-statistical folk but it’s best to get acquainted with the process on a more technical side first. It’s basically a set of standard deviation figures collected from data in a manufacturing process.

Since defects are defined in statistics as specification limits which separates the bad outcomes from the good, then the 6S process is a set of standard deviations based on the nearest specification limit for each level or “Sigma”.

For instance, if the desired length of a metal pane produced by a machine is in between 2.5 and 3.0 meters, then the process mean is at 2.75 with a standard deviation of 0.187. That means, in order to get a near-perfect and near-consistent production run, almost every item produced by that machine should be within the range of 2.62 and 2.85 meters.

On a more production-focused perspective, you can use the statistical tool to lower the defects of each production batch by a percentage in each sigma level. Theoretically speaking, the success rate per level is as follows.

Level 1 – 33.45%

Level 2 – 69.98%

Level 3 – 93.32%

Level 4 – 99.38%

Level 5 – 99.97%

Level 6 – 99.99%

As one could see, reaching level 6 is not even necessary to ensure optimum production results. You could basically go as far as level 4 and the margin of success in each production batch has already attained near-perfection. This won’t ensure a perfect production run in each sequence, however. It only ensures that the defects in each production process have been reduced by the thousands or millions, depending on the case.


As of now, there are two schools of thought in performing Six Sigma. These two methodologies have 5 phases each and are known as:

DMAIC – This methodology is best for businesses with existing production system designs and could be broken down into:

Defining the System this includes identifying the requirements usually set by customers and comparing them to the overall goals set by the company.

Measuring Key Aspects – this involves measuring and analyzing current production systems and determines their production capability as is.

Analyzing Data – In this process, one must identify how each factor correlates to one another and result in a specific set of outcomes. This will also involve categorizing each outcome and seeking out root causes for the ones that result in defective products.

Improving Current Systems – During this phase, the focus is on making the system “mistake-proof”, constant calibration and repairing are to be expected here if one wants to reach the margin of statistical success defined in each sigma level.

Controlling Future Production Runs – At this point, the focus is on making the changes as sustainable as possible. This will involve implementing rules that ensure each production reaches the required sigma level success rate.

DMADV – This methodology works best if you have to start from scratch as far as setting up your production processes are concerned.

Defining the Goals This phase involves identifying what customers want, what the company can offer, and what the company intends to achieve.

Measuring and Identifying Critical to Quality Characteristics – Here, you will identify what tools and specifications in your production runs have to be met to ensure quality. Also, you’d have to identify the risks to avoid and the output to minimize production.

Analyzing and Developing Design Alternatives – At this point, you should come up with several production layouts and processes to ensure the level 4 to 6 success rates.

Designing an Improved Alternative – Once you have found the best possible production design, you have the option to improve it even further.

Verifying the Design – This phase involves setting things up and ding your first production runs. A bit of tweaking and upgrading might be necessary here if you want to reach the 99% success rate.


Once you have come up with a near-perfect production process, the rest of the process will include translating that concept to the rest of the organization. This should not come as a surprise to you but implementation should always start on top.

The executive management should learn what is Six Sigma and set up the rules on how to implement it. Lower management like department heads will then oversee the implementation while senior personnel like supervisors must coach the lower levels on how to ensure near-perfect production qualities. The employees would then receive the training and directly implement these processes by making sure that their work’s output follows the desired specifications. This will include every stage of the production process from the selection of materials to the production proper and even the quality control processes at several points through the chain.

At a glance, Six Sigma could look like this arduous strategy whose conditions for success are near impossible to achieve. However, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to implement and sustain. With constant effort in implementation and improvement, your employees could go about attaining the upper sigma of success within each production run.

What is Intra-Logistics?

What is Intra-Logistics?

Supply chain management is core to majority businesses. The way they handle the system determines their operating costs, customer service, financial position, and inventory management. Therefore, the supply chain logistics have to be strategized and implemented in a manner that businesses will realize the benefits of good governance. This has always been the case until recently when a new word was coined to help improve the supply chain. This word is none other than intra-logistics. Heard of it? There are even intra-logistic companies that have come up over the years.

Unfortunately, not many know the purpose of intra-logistics in warehouses and supply chain. Researching ‘what is intra-logistics?’ doesn’t help either as many become even more confused. Hopefully after this article, you will be able to explain intra-logistics in full.

So what is intralogistics?

Straight to the point, intralogistics is the management and optimization of internal production and distribution processes. To be more precise, it deals with how to efficiently handle warehouse operations. This may include, information flow, material handling, and how to integrate with modern technologies. It is not new to us that industries will embrace technological advancements and new methods to improve their businesses.

Therefore, applying intralogistics to internal processes within the walls of a fulfillment center and distribution center reduces costs, minimizes inventory, increases product time to be shipped to market and improves employees’ safety. Also, integrating these solutions in the supply chain helps to enhance flexibility.

Each day, companies are realizing these benefits and are implementing intra-logistics solutions in their daily operations. From process engineering, systems design and implementation, database design, project management, remote monitoring to warehouse automation, intra-logistics are being used to optimize and manage the processes.

For example, industries are integrating robotics and automation techniques to simplify the work of their staff and improve the quality and production of goods. Further, these techniques and systems are taking information processing to a whole new level, and they are improving connectivity, intelligence, and how fast processes move along.

Based on this example, intra-logistics finds a new definition as the art of optimizing, integrating automating, and managing the logistical flow of information and material goods within the walls of a fulfillment or distribution center. (According to invata.com)

In general, intra-logistics is all about the internal controls between information flow and material handling. Its benefits are quite fulfilling in the supply chain management answering why it has created a buzz in many industries.

That is about the size of it. Intra-logistics is a simple concept which hopefully you have understood.

What does Lean Manufacturing mean?

What does Lean Manufacturing mean?

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

As a production and manufacturing company, certain factors lead to increased quality of work without ever having to compromise on the value of the product. After all, no customer will pay for commodities that are below the standards. Therefore, companies will put in place measures designed to fast-track the designing and distribution process so as customers can get value for their money. That is why companies like Toyota use the lean manufacturing technique. And for the most part, Toyota production system is credited with coming up with this technique.

But before going any further, just what is lean manufacturing? Simply put, it’s all about adding value to the process by minimizing waste. The waste in this context is anything that only ends up taking much of your time and money just to add no value to the finished product. As such it is essential to know these types of muda (the traditional Japanese name for waste in the manufacturing process) for better implementation of the technique.

Categories of muda

  • Overproduction- when the demand increases it is only natural for companies to produce more products to meet the customer’s needs. However, if the results of the production, mostly producing before the demand, causes storage costs that could have been avoided, that’s waste.
  • Over-processing – dwelling too much on a product so that you can meet the customer requirements. It might be due to inadequate tools or lack of simpler manufacturing processes
  • Transportation – do not move raw materials or finished products unnecessarily. Better yet, find transportation alternatives with better rates. Otherwise, you will be creating waste.
  • Motion – how often do you move equipment or do people move about without any significance in the manufacturing process?
  • Inventory – any products, work-in-process or finished goods that aren’t supporting any needs.
  • Defects – results to wastage of time inspecting and fixing production errors
  • Waiting – this waste emerges from in-between breaks during work-in-process just waiting for the next step.
  • Unused workforce- any time you do not value employees ideas, skills and creativity, that is another form of waste.

The importance of knowing these categories of lean manufacturing waste is to improve quality while reducing costs, time wastes and eliminating the non-value adding processes. Once identified, the waste can be removed using different tools including Jidoka, Poka-Yoke, Kanban, SMED, Kaizen, value stream mapping, continuous workflow, Takt Time and many others.

It is essential to produce quality goods in an optimized manufacturing process to save on cost. Through avoiding the above waste there is increased productivity, and the process’s goals can be met.

How to Use Pallet Carts in Your Facility

How to Use Pallet Carts in Your Facility

In line with the ultimate goal of Lean manufacturing, which is enhancing work environments to reduce waste and uphold production, various equipment is incorporated into the movement of paraphernalia around the factory. The most notable are forklifts and pallet carts. The former is slowly getting removed from factory floors due to the efficiency of pallet carts. The use of pallet carts has been observed to bring the following benefits:

Decongesting the Floors With Pallet Carts & Tugger Trains

Pallet carts can be automated to specific routes. Their movement can be configured in such a way that they take up minimum space, and deliver necessities from one point to another.

Loading containers on forklifts are albeit more complicated because they require more space to maneuver. One or more carts can easily be removed, allowing for the rest to move along to other destinations.

How to Increase Delivery Capacity

Operators of forklifts have to transfer weighty load in a limited number of containers and still have to travel back and forth before delivery is complete.

Pallet carts have revolutionized this field by introducing the ability to link multiple carts then deliver them in one journey. The number of carts is practically limited to the power output of the tugger in the series.

Forklifts may still need to be used in some factories, but are restricted to receiving and shipping.

Reducing Energy Consumption

Less energy is consumed when the number of tugger trips is reduced. If more materials are able to reach their destination in two trips instead of four, less waste is emitted. This runs well with the objective of lean manufacturing.

Another thing that is improved is required manpower. More people are needed to operate the traditional way of moving materials. A normal system will have to work with three people, whereas one controls the movement of the car, someone else loads new cargo, while still another unloads the cargo.

Help Reduce Wait Times

Production times can be cut by half with the use of pallet carts. In a study to compare the delivery speeds of forklifts and pallet carts, both were observed as they got loaded, traveled and unloaded packages of equal weight from point A to point B.

The findings from this study were rather pleasant to the researchers as it was discovered that pallet carts took 50% of the time required by forklifts to complete a designated job. The reasons behind such a huge difference were the perfect design of routes and detachability of the pallet carts.

Detaching and reattaching carts takes less than a minute, and eradicates production wait times.

Operating Pallet Carts

The good thing with pallet carts is that they only need basic driving skills from operators. Those operated by hand have a notable abridged control panel which machinists use to guide the vehicle around with.

The operators need just a bit of training to enable them to run the machine efficiently.






Is Your Factory Ready for Lean Manufacturing?

Is Your Factory Ready for Lean Manufacturing?

Businesses deal with a lot of issues on a daily basis. Activities may be hindered by delivery problems, extended lead times and issues with factory and office workflow. Most corporations wonder how they will know if they are ready to engage in lean manufacturing.

The good thing with lean manufacturing is that it gives a business the “nitty-gritty” that constitute effective operations.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

This is a commonly misinterpreted word. It is thought to be a method of copying what other companies do. However, Lean manufacturing is more of learning from other companies with the knowledge that not everything that seems to work for them, will work excellently for you.

All businesses are unique, hence call for techniques that are aligned with their goals.

It is common for many businesses to seek Lean when they feel that they have taken care of all the basics. A more informed view is that Lean is the actual basis.

Lean follows practical approaches such as scrapping bureaucratic and complex procedures. This takes businesses from large scale messes to smooth performance.

Problems That Arise When Implementing Lean

The industry is packed with Lean trainers and consultants. Most of them introduce what they think will work for you after interpreting the Lean approach. Unfortunately, this method is likely to lead to overly rigid procedures. When the approach is carried out in the form of complicated diagnostics and checklists, it not only fails to resolve the problem at its core but also becomes extremely resource hungry.

For the Lean solution to work, the core business problems such as quality, lead time and engagement of staff have to be understood and targeted.

Is There a Particular Time When a Business Is “Ready For Lean?”

Some issues such as problems with strategic direction may hold up the implementation of Lean. Areas such as marketing and sales might also call for immediate attention.

Commitment to other projects might mean that Lean implementation takes a break. There may be inadequate resources as a result of an ongoing commitment.

Some changes that occur on a large scale may make a particular time not fit for launching a Lean program. For instance, if your company is laying down future management changes or is in the process of being acquired, it is wise to see these essential activities through to completion.

As much as Lean programs have great benefits to any organisation, shifting the focus of key staff from a running project to Lean initiative is difficult.

The Bottom Line

Your business is ready for Lean manufacturing if: your internal processes are unsuccessful, your delivery and quality is unpleasant to your customers; frustrating to them, or none of your staff is willing to be held accountable for any activities.

There is always some sort of gap even when things don’t seem to be bad. It is very rare that your company will get to a point when you feel that the Lean journey has been travelled successfully.