Lean manufacturing is among the methodologies utilized most widely for improving business and corporate functions. There are many schools and consultants involved in teaching its associated principles. However, this exercise requires that an instructor has real world experience to ensure equipping trainees effectively with the appropriate Lean tools. It takes sufficient experience along with refined interpersonal skills for the instructor to influence change to this effect.
The Lean Manufacturing Process
Lean manufacturing comprises of various tools, with the best courses teaching lean manufacturing principles alongside when and how to utilize lean tools. The correct way of implementing manufacturing starts with analyzing the needs, challenges and opportunities that a given business presents. Tools are used for resolving the issues upon identifying these opportunities, which could either be six sigma or lean manufacturing tools. It would not be prudent limiting the success attained via a particular lean initiative by excluding a proven and effective problem-solving tool.
Examples of Lean Tools
Examples of lean manufacturing tools include 5S (Sort-Set in Order-Shine-Standardized-Sustain), value stream mapping, takt time, kanban, cellular manufacturing, TPM (total productive maintenance), continuous flow and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). Others include SMED (single minute exchange of die), standardized operations and line balancing, error proofing, kaizen, 7 wastes (muda) as well as root-cause problem solving tools.
Workplace Organization Tools
Certain tools are fundamental to the success of any lean manufacturing initiative. An example is the 5S tool which is critical for keeping the workplace organized well.
Root-Cause Problem-Solving Tools
Tools used for solving root-cause problems need to be employed in all implementation processes of lean manufacturing. These vary depending upon the problem, with some of the more common ones being Cause and Effects Analysis, 8D method, 5 Why Analysis, Process Mapping, CT trees as well as affinity diagrams.
Another useful tool is value stream mapping, applied for determining where the value should be added along with non-value added (muda) areas. Improvement opportunities become obvious, upon completion of the value stream map.
Tools for Solving Specific Business Opportunities
Tools like line balancing, takt time, OEE and SMED should be applied for solving specific business opportunities. SMED is for instance used for reducing setup times for process or machinery. It finds appreciable usage especially in businesses which run smaller order quantities along with changing over oftentimes.
The name Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement and refers to a powerful improvement tool. It employs a rapid improvement method which takes 3 to 5 days and utilizes a cross-functional team for solving a business problem. A kaizen event team utilizes a lot more other lean tools for solving the challenge at hand.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a good tool for improving maintenance, which helps in turn to improve the various elements of a manufacturing business. These include OEE, setup times and downtime as well as costs and profitability. In TPM, operators get involved in the maintenance of the equipment they use. Go Lean Six Sigma Lean tools can, for instance, enable an organization to resolve its most sensitive workplace problems.
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