In most of the cases, mechanical or industrial engineers are directly or indirectly involved in manufacturing. So to make the production process successful engineers should know some lean techniques as well. Engineers involved in management, as well as direct production, must have some basic knowledge about lean. The main purpose of this article will be discussing the essential terms that should be known to every production and design engineer.
Please read: Complete Idea of Lean Flow
Engineers who are not directly involved in manufacturing have very less chance to know about the lean techniques. Hopefully, this article will help them to have some basic ideas of lean production. In modern-day manufacturing lean is not limited to manufacturing only. Lean production techniques are used these days to create leadership and teamwork too. At first lean was first introduced to eliminate the redundant and waste materials from the production unit. Day by day it has evolved into a robust weapon to make the production floor ergonomic.
Essential Lean Techniques for Engineers
James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones founded Lean Enterprise Institute in 1997. It is considered to be the ultimate resource of Lean. According to Womack and Jones there some principles that should be studied by the engineers to make the production floor more efficient. Among those principles, five main principles will be discussed here. Without further ado, let’s begin-
First – Value
Value is a thing that can be defined by the customer’s requirement. What is a customer asking for and how can manage that quality with the lowest price and maximize your profit? This can be done when you have studied the engineering technique of optimizing the value. Discussing the price point is another factor in this case. To meet the customer requirement can you offer them some alternatives that keep the value but satisfies the customer? These are some of the information that you need to gather to have a clear idea of the value of the project you are dealing with.
Second- Value Stream
The first job is to determine the value goal. Next, you have to learn about the value stream mapping. To set the value stream you need to know about each and every step of the product manufacturing. And up to the delivery you have to put continuous attention. So from the sourcing of the raw materials to the final delivery, each and every step should be mapped. How value stream helps an engineer to learn about the lean production? If the mapping is properly done then it will act as an eye-opening experience for the engineers. By identifying all the actions needed or not needed the value stream technique helps an engineer to forecast. Value stream thus helps to eradicate the wasteful steps that are hiding inside the process flowchart. Starting from design, procurement, raw material collection in the factory, production, finished good delivery and lastly customer service all steps can be involved in the value stream. This creates a better understanding of the business for the engineers.
After the positive application of the value stream, the redundant is removed. Next challenge is to keep the flow of the materials smooth in the next steps. There are some issues that can arrive and create a hindrance. There may be interruptions, bottlenecks and delays due to various reasons. If these become predominant, then the value of the product will be reduced. Tight supervision and sequence maintaining are essential to create the smooth flow and deliver the material to the customer. So an engineer needs to know what are the possibilities of interruption. This knowledge comes from experience and studies. If the smooth production is ensured than customer satisfaction will be at a higher level.
After calculating the value and value streaming if the materials flow is super smooth then the delivery will be highly efficient. So time to the customer will be improved dramatically. This is the main motto of lean production which is called just in time production. So the ‘pulling’ of the product by the customer from the manufacturing unit will be smoother. So keep the product ready and the customer can take the product on daily or weekly basis instead of monthly basis. It will improve the profit of the company. Inventory stuck will not be there. As a result, the interest will be less. Materials will not be stockpiled smooth flow of the delivery items will be there. Customer and manufacturer both will be benefited.
You have implemented all the four processes but the fifth one is the most important. To grow a corporate culture is very much important to keep the continuous production flow. Lean manufacturing and improvement techniques should be incorporated into the corporate culture. The main target is to maintain the lean. It is not static. It should be a dynamic process and each and every employee should be involved in this endeavour. So the true lean is tough to understand. After a number of times you have to practice the one to four processes and then you will understand the art of perfecting the lean.
Ultimately learning and applying lean in your organization will give you tons of benefits. The customers will be happy. The management will be happy. Maybe at times, a customer will try to be part of the manufacturing team as they are getting readymade manufacturing units with lean techniques. So collaboration will come into play. The number of suppliers will be increased. You will have the options to choose the best from different suppliers. Suppliers will consequently find it competitive and will try to generate their improvements on their own.
The main idea of the lean is eliminating the seven wastes and maximizing the customer satisfaction. As an engineer, you will be able to provide great customer service with some simplistic lean manufacturing tools. Learning lean techniques will create a robust manufacturing unit which will help in –
- Customer values
- Continuous improvements
- Eliminating wastes
- Creating a sustainable development in the factory
So for the betterment of your career and for the greater good of the company every one engineer should practice lean manufacturing methods.