What would it be like if one day we woke up and there was nothing for us to do or nothing for us to anticipate? How annoying is it that thought let alone if the situation comes to reality? Fortunately, that is not and never the case.
The world around us is continuously evolving from both the small and significant innovations that are happening in every corner of the world. There is always some part of the world that is continually working, thinking, planning, creating something new or redefining some of the old creations. This is what makes us tick and look forward to a better tomorrow. For this same reason, subjects like Project Manufacturing are gaining a lot of attention these days.
What is Project Manufacturing?
Project manufacturing is a large-scale industrial operation process that is mainly carried out to design and produce big, highly specialized, and costly products such as ships, aircraft, submarines, defense systems, customized consumer products such as automobiles, homes, and others.
However, one product manufacturing process is significantly different from the other, as every process is highly unique. Nevertheless, project manufacturing processes are quite flexible regarding operations, mainly because every product that each manufacturing project manufactures is substantially different from the other. Thus, with large project sizes of every project, the high expenses associated with each project, and the high degree of customization that is applied to each project, makes project manufacturing relatively a long duration process for each project to attain its completion phase.
Highlighting Features of Project Manufacturing
- It produces similar products in large numbers but in a unique manner. For instance, vehicle manufacturers produce similar automobile parts in larger quantities but ensuring that it all fits different vehicle requirements in some way or the other.
- It exploits the principle of using “common manufacturing requirements” to increase the efficiency rate. For instance, if two or more customized projects require the same manufacturing components, then these are produced at the same time but in larger quantities to save time and resources.
- It allows for customizations to produce unique combinations of products and services. For instance, home manufacturers will go out of business if they construct the same models of houses for all its clients. Therefore, they need to ensure that modifications are made, and customizations are accommodated as per client preference.
- Unique requirements are treated as a separate project to improve overall efficiency. For instance, manufacturing ships for defense purposes and those for cruise purposes need to be considered as two different projects rather than as one single project, as both these have different requirements.
Major Problems that Project Manufacturing Faces
No doubt, it has been concluded that Project Manufacturing is indeed a large-scale operation and like most large-scale projects, Project Manufacturing too suffers from its share of problems. Of the many issues out there, here is a look at the three major issues that most project manufacturing projects face during its project completion.
- Lack of Project Ownership & Micromanagement: The fundamental problem that most large-scale projects face is that the plan lacks proper control systems as it progresses forward, thereby going through a series of handlers who adopt micromanagement practices, which bring about a negative working environment. This in turn also results in laborers who steer away from responsibilities, and as a result, projects lose momentum through its course.
- Lack of Information: Information is knowledge. Hence, there must a proper flow of information through every channel. For instance, incomplete/inadequate/inaccurate information will result in poor project delivery. Some projects fail because the production team is not provided with adequate information and as a result, production does not meet the intended Similarly, information passed on to the customer is also important, without which product handling and usage fail.
- Material Mismanagement: Another major problem that most big manufacturers face is the problems associated with material handling and storing. While some projects experience material shortages, others face material surplus issues, both of which create additional problems. For instance, material shortages will lead to production halts and thus result in loss of revenue. On the other hand, an excessive stock is primarily viewed as locked capital, which again if not appropriately managed or diverted to other needy operations will result in reduced profits for the Company.
Solutions to Conquer the Three P’s
Problems are never-ending in any field and needless to say, a new project throws more issues than you anticipate or can handle. It is easy to list out problems, but true talent surfaces only when the root cause of the problem is identified, and the best solution to the problem is devised in the most cost-effective and least time-consuming manner. Thus, here are the best solutions that may be employed to the above the three problem statements.
- Proper Ownership: All projects, irrespective of its size and investment, must ensure appropriate management right from the start to delivery. This is crucial to provide quality, deadlines, and budgets are met within the set parameters. For this, every project must necessarily have a Project Lead/Manager who will take full ownership of the project and whose primary function is to oversee the different stages of project transformation.
- Proper flow of information: Information must be well documented and passed on to the next level to ensure project management or product usage occurs at its best. Projects should never kickstart with incomplete information such as lack of drawings or insufficient labor. It is better to put such plans on hold rather than wasting money and resources. Hence, it is vital that information is passed on smoothly from project initiation to delivery and ultimately usage.
- Efficient Material Management: Companies must plan their material requirements. For this, many useful industrial practices such as the Just-in-Time (JIT) approach, Six Sigma practices, zero waste systems, or the Kanban systems can be applied in their manufacturing processes, especially while producing standard items and procuring common raw materials.
Thus, in short, Project Manufacturing can be seen as an amalgamation of the best Industrial Manufacturing processes and the most effective Project Management systems at a standard level sharing common interests of ensuring financial gains for the company as a whole.
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.
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.
In business, sustainability matters just like profitability. The two go together since if a process profits the company and is sustainable, no one can do away with it. One way of achieving these two factors is through managing waste. Through the lean manufacturing methods of eliminating waste, a business can reach its goals without having to endure high cost finally. This agenda shouldn’t be a one-time deal. As a business, you need to continually evaluate your processes for waste and rid off it and improve areas that need improvement. Continual evaluation of your business and the waste in your process is what lean process improvement is.
The process is directed at continually improving the business processes and can be adopted in any industry. Now, lean process improvement is guided by the 5S methodology which stands for;
By sorting things in order of their use helps reduce time wasted and take care of distractions in business processes. Any items that are least used should be relocated somewhere else to save on space and any unnecessary items or operations eliminated. Through sorting, you will reduce the clutter that may be undermining your processes.
Set in order- seiton
After sorting, the next step in lean process improvement is optimally organizing the items. Those that are used more often needs to be within reach for a smooth workflow. Keeping commonly used tools nearby, and in fixed locations will be a significant time saver.
Shine – seiso
The third-S is more of maintenance. You know very well that proper support helps avoid repair costs and improve the quality of a process. In line with that, regular inspections, regular software updates, and always keeping the workplace clean not only ensure safety but also makes it easy to pinpoint problems before they escalate.
Standardize – seiketsu
Using the first three steps, certain things will change for the sake of lean process improvement. These changes need to be permanent and therefore standardizing processes makes it difficult to fall back contributing to growth. Whatever procedures you put in place and the schedules to be followed, they should be aimed at continuous improvement.
Sustain – shitsuke
Lean process improvement demands constant growth. Sustaining the adopted processes during the 5s methodology creates room for accountability. Training sessions, regular audits, implementing enhancements when necessary and other performance evaluation processes help promote sustainability.
Furthermore, lean process improvement shouldn’t be treated as an event. Instead, it is a mindset that organizations should use to solve systematic gaps in their processes. By viewing it as a mindset, delivering services to customers becomes easy as 123, and they do not struggle to maintain growth and improvement.
Lean process improvement, therefore, maximizes value and provides room for fast delivery. Through a scientific approach, businesses can identify opportunities, plan the processes that will achieve growth, execute implementation changes and finally review how well the changes are doing in the overall business process.
So you see, lean process improvement is essential in organizations for growth. However, if you want it to be effective, it has to be applied in all departments. Optimizing one sector of your business will mean that another will try to keep up or will be inconsistent with the new improved business structure, therefore, hurting the company. Thus, optimize all areas of your business using the 5s methodology.
Additionally, some tools have been developed to help organizations and businesses improve their processes. One of them is Nintex Promapp that manages the business process through lean tagging and tracking waste and cost.
Lean process improvement is that simple. Just follow the 5S methodology and watch your business processes improve and you will be able to keep eliminating waste.