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Lean Manufacturing

Essay by   •  March 24, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,639 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,922 Views

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Companies research various efforts that will allow them to operate more efficiently. This gained efficiency provides opportunities for cost reduction in various forms through areas such as labor, facility management, and equipment. Companies within manufacturing must place focus on their procedures as these are the steps that guide a finished product that is of good quality and satisfactory by customers. One method that assist manufacturing industries is lean manufacturing.

Lean Manufacturing utilizes various tools and methods in allowing a company to focus on eliminating any areas of a process that generate waste and add no value. It defines waste by categorizing seven areas of current processes to include overproduction, waiting, transport, motion, overprocessing, inventory, and defects (Lean Production, 2011). Overproduction occurs as companies make products prior to being needed. This can occur with companies not utilizing the Just in Time production method. As there is more inventory than being sold, it creates a waste in funds with excess products. Waiting takes place as a step within a process has to wait until another step is completed. For a fashion manufacturer, if all materials/fabrics are not in stock, the sewing process cannot begin. Transport waste takes place as items are moved unnecessarily. Instead of shipping all items by one method, there may be reason to ship items going to close geographic locations instead of shipping one item across all regions.

Motion waste occurs as manufacturing facilities are not in procedural line according to the process. With an assembly line to make shirts, the buttons would not logically be positioned before the arms are sewn into place. When this occurs, movement of staff has to take place in doubling back to another process. Overprocessing takes place from poor planning of a project creating waste in resources with use of staff and materials that may have not been needed at the time. Inventory waste occurs when products are created at a time when they were not needed based upon order requests and quantities. Defects are a costly waste as they create a lost in resources with labor and materials and a greater lost can occur with customer loyalty.

As companies seek to remain competitive while keeping cost low, some have sought lean manufacturing to eliminate the type of waste that they are experiencing. Toyota is one of the top automobile manufacturers. They utilize lean manufacturing through a system they have termed the Toyota Production System with a philosophy aimed at "the complete elimination of all waste" in their manufacturing (Toyota, 2012). In eliminating waste, the production system focuses on defects, motion, overproduction, and inventory. Defect wastes are addressed during the manufacturing process wherein as a problem is noticed the equipment auto detects the issue and immediately stops. As staff are assigned to machines, once stopped it his allows the staff member to review and correct the problem. If there is a problem with that machine they can immediately move on to another one within that same vicinity helping with motion waste. Overproduction and inventory waste are prevented as manufacturing does not take place until there is a need for an automobile order. The exact number of parts required for assembly is placed on the line according to the specifications of the vehicle. As parts are used they are replaced with the exact part type and quantity to prevent excess use. Toyota has benefited from this process in being able to creating a system where their staff and equipment are able to work seamlessly and eliminate waste in their process. Ultimately they have been able to product quality vehicles in a timely manner at the most minimal cost to them in generating a profit and maintaining loyal customers.

Redbox is the latest invention in movie entertainment in providing automated video rental with locations nationwide. As the name suggests, a "red box" is placed inside or outside a facility, mainly seen at CVS drugstores and Walmart, allowing customers to purchase DVD's or Blu-ray Discs without the assistance of personnel. The user selects a movie among the selections available, inserts a credit card for payment, and instantly receives their movie(s) for the low price of $1.00 (price varies by state). The manufactures of the physical red box, Flextronics, have been using lean manufacturing since 2005 in arguing that Americans should utilize lean manufacturing to reduce costs versus going oversees (Simpson, 2010).

Flextronics uses lean manufacturing in focusing on eliminating waste of overprocessing, motion, inventory, and defects. Only one redbox is manufactured at a time based on the request for an order to eliminate having an excessive number of machines that are not needed. Parts come from suppliers only as they are needed with the main part of the product, the box, coming pre-painted to eliminate the need for paint or the staff to paint. Staff is placed along the assembly line at their dedicated stations. Each station has the instructions on a video monitor on what needs to be done to allow workers to operate more than one station to assist with motion waste with unnecessary movement. The redbox only

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