Lean Manufacturing – A Solid Start for your Business

Some mill floor supervisors are making the mistake of supposing that lean production is the end all be all of their factory floor control.  Warehouse and Logistics News begs to differ with that logic in a recent article titled “Modular lean is the beginning not the end” [of mill flooring oversight].

Today, many mill floor supervisors discuss implementing lean production with too little knowledge about the total concept and goal.  In attempting to implement the process, many U.S. manufacturers are disappointed by inadequate outcome, while some have found the process too disruptive.  Others believe they are sticking to the principles of lean production but lack the control to enhance the process.  Thus, they may actually be costing themselves more cash in the long run.  That’s not to mention that lean manufacturing does not serve a function on the mill floor, nevertheless.

“Some of the most successful implementations of lean manufacturing involve manufacturing staff cooperating with engineers to identify and implement change on the store floor,” the article goes on to point out.  It continues its praise of lean manufacturing’s benefits in this manner, “Another significant area where introducing lean can help make important developments is with [mill floor] stock control. The storage equipment can be configured to the specific handling requirement and built to improve the use of available space, not too much rather than too small.  In several instances, this can free space on the store floor that can subsequently be used for extra value-adding processes.  The sum of inventory tied up as ‘work in progress’ is normally also lessened, which releases money to be used elsewhere in the company.”

The implementation of a real-time data collection system which provides job tracking and factory floor control can help shop floor supervisors in realizing all the benefits of lean production–plus a bunch of other desired outcomes.  A solid lean manufacturing strategy, one which is built upon a good mill floor management system, goes beyond just-in-time approaches.  It strives to decrease mill floor inventory through greater communication about manufacturing processes and their inherent problems.  By tapping into the knowledge of factory floor employees, it makes their experience component of this solution.

What can factory floor supervisors do to move efficiently toward lean production?

Among the obvious but often overlooked tools is data from a digital floor system.  A factory floor data system will help producers proceed with lean concepts of identifying problems, after the stream of parts, and measuring changeover times.

With data systems, factory floor procedures and parts flow, sometimes known as a “current state map,” are visibly monitored through manufacturing.  This process flow is observable and available daily to all employees.  Consequently, advancement becomes a continuous, ongoing target for both management and factory floor employees.

The bottom line is if businesses want to have thinner production procedures, they need to be certain they evaluate all the choices.  It’s essential for factory floor supervisors to think creatively and utilize the information tools which are readily available to them creatively.  That includes Implementing a real-time data collection system which provides job tracking and factory floor control.