Lean principles are the way to improve manufacturing processes and can be applied to any production process. Every machinist should know these lean manufacturing principles in order to increase efficiency and help reduce costs. With the right lean manufacturing principles, US manufacturing can compete on an international level. There are five principles to incorporate: value, value stream, flow, pull and perfection.
The value should be established early on in the CNC manufacturing process. In determining the value, machinists should look at the needs of the customer for the product. Other things to consider are the timeline, price point and if the customer’s expectations are going to be met.
After value has been determined, there needs to be an established process that takes the materials to the final product, known as value stream. Value stream is mapping out the steps it takes to complete the whole process. Every step needs be identified no matter what department it is in, whether it’s design, production administration, delivery or customer service. Once every step is determined, it’s necessary to go through the steps in order to find ones that don’t create any value and are wasteful. This process can be referred to as re-engineering, and helps better understand the whole organization. It’s important to identify inefficient inventory control, defects or bottlenecks in the process in order to make the system more lean.
In this step, determining everything of nonvalue is very important. It’s necessary to learn the difference between value and waste, and vendors may need to be consolidated. Purchasing supplies and components from one source may eliminate waste, since communicating with multiple people can use up time and money.
Once the waste has been eliminated from the process through value stream, the next step is to determine the flow of the remaining steps to continue to eliminate any interruptions, bottlenecks or delays. The steps need to flow smoothly. Sometimes it’s needed to look at all departments so they become cross-functional. This can lead to increases in productivity and efficiency, sometimes showing more than 50% improvement.
The idea of pull is to have the product ready for the consumer at any time, because the steps to make the product have become efficient and that product can be pulled when needed. This saves money for the manufacturing process because products don’t have to be stockpiled and there isn’t inventory just sitting there where people have to manage it.
Lean is not just a one-time thing and, in order to achieve perfection and perfect value, the first four principles need to be looked at often and incorporated into the company culture. All employees should be involved in the process. Even though many of the processes are within manufacturing, other departments can still be involved. It may be necessary to repeat value steam and flow to create maximum efficiency.
When implemented correctly, lean principles will help improve efficiency and provide other values, such as increased workplace safety. Lean principles not only can be applied to manufacturing, but also different departments. By thinking outside the box, lean can be used to reduce fatigue in the manufacturing process, which can reduce injury potential. Not only does the company benefit from lean principles, but customers benefit as well.