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5 Manufacturing Problems That Can Be Solved With Lean

As lean integrators, we’ve seen all types of manufacturing and production operations and all sorts of issues that prevent those operations from achieving their next level of success. Here are a few common issues we see and insights into how lean can be applied to resolve them:

Sales (faster!), operations (easier!), and purchasing (cheaper!) all speak different languages

This is a problem to be solved first with management, and then with lean management. The role of management at this step is to concretely define the thing (not things) that need to be done to secure, capture, or expand the market, whichever is the current need. Once that thing is set and understood by all, lean management is deployed to build new ways of working to align the actions of all associated groups.

Your competitor delivers faster and is taking market share

The best companies have figured out how to build unique capabilities to bend time and space. These things are not measured well by accounting statements, but the results they create sure are. The initial development of the Toyota System put the manufacturing world on notice of a better way and the race has been on ever since. If you have a competitor that is bending time and using it to beat you, you either have to compete on a different dimension (customization, for example) or figure out how to catch up. Lean can help you do both.

Orders of different size, complexity, and customer are all handled the same, which causes daily problems

There is an allure to the idea that any order of any mix of requirements can go through any area of a given process. Unlimited, infinity scheduling heaven! Most likely, not everything you make should be managed this way and starting to manage it this way from your current reality will do more harm than good. Lean will help you understand the different criteria, processes, and paths of different output to evaluate organization options.

You keep adding people and capacity but still can’t tell your customer with any certainty when their order will ship

Consistency, visibility, and predictability are powerful outcomes of a lean system that most people can’t believe until they see it. When you’re in a batch and push process and each downstream step chooses when it works on what order, and every hot job is an all hands on deck effort just to get it to shipping, a workplace based on rhythm that delivers a paced and planned output must seem impossible. But that’s exactly what lean systems deliver.

Hiking boots are required to climb the mountains of inventory to find that one part the ERP says is there

Modern manufacturing processes are reliable and stable. When you run your cell, your well-trained operators perform their jobs consistently to produce a mix of different parts at the correct rate every day. Why do you need a week of work in process in between different operations? You don’t. Lean helps you leave the fear of “what if something happens” behind to build trust in the system and, when problems do occur, to solve them quickly.

Schedule an onsite consultation with Geolean’s lean experts to evaluate why these problems are plaguing your operation and how you can resolve them with lean integration.

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