How to Implement Some Lean Manufacturing Measures

I am a firm believer in running a business lean. And, when I say lean, I am not talking about being cheap. You see, most people associate lean with being cheap. Those are just people uneducated in the true reasons Resale Price Maintenance and theories behind lean manufacturing. But, if you are going to get your company to a self sustaining lean point of operation, here is the one area you will need to start with first: Plant Organization.
OK, so it is not the glamorous nugget of information you were probably looking for. You want the one thing you can run out there, do, and see those drastic results you and your company need. Well, in a way, this is it. Because if your company is not organized on the production floor, then you will never get the end results you are after. Let’s look a little closer at how organization can help.
Organization comes in all shapes and forms in production and manufacturing. You have inventory, paperwork, inspections, tools, work cell layouts, and even the cleaning supplies. All of these play an important part in the success of the organization. And, if you have not noticed yet, each station within each work cell has all of these items there. The question then becomes: Are they even the right items, and where do they go?
This is were a Lean term, called 5S, comes into play. In its simplest form, it means everything has a place and there is a place for everything. But when you dig down a bit deeper, it gets even better.
When I walk into a work cell, I am always amazed how each cell looks like it is running so smooth. Everyone looks busy, and there is always product going into the box. But how much time and energy is being wasted? You will only be able to see this when you stop at a specific work station and start talking with the operators.
When you do this, you need to see what tools they are using and if they are even the right tools. I would imagine at a closer look, you will find extra inventory near by, paperwork not in its place (if there is even a place for it), employee made tools and assembly devices (because they can not get management to get the right tool for them), and they probably do a lot of busy work. This is work that is non value added that people do just to stay busy. Their heart is in the right place, but it is costing the company money.
Your job will be to get all of the extra stuff they do not need out of the work station. What is left, will then be given a permanent home. When I say this, I mean you will need to place an outline on a peg board, or a cut out in some foam, or even a label of what the tool is. This is for visual management, and will allow for the operator and anyone else to know right away when something is missing.
Plus, you also need to get the right tools in there. This goes a long way to showing the operator and the people you actually care. It will also make their job much easier, if they can use the right tool.
This simple 5S technique is a very simple lean measure you can implement right away. If you wanted to measure this on a weekly basis, just set up a grading scale, and then grade this area every week. Industrial Engineering Process Improvement You should have a before picture, and an after picture of what the work station should look like. Then when you grade, you are grading on the current condition against the picture. Very simple!
This should give you an idea about how to implement a simple lean measure. It just takes you being willing to get up and take a little initiative on your own and get it done. And with something as simple as above, you can start immediately.

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