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10 Steps to Lean Manufacturing Success
Step  8 of 10

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Lean Manufacturing Articles


    The objective of Step Eight is to have material "glide along smoothly" to meet customer demand. Production is pulled through the factory one unit at a time at a rate determined by customer demand. Material movement is based on actual consumption with a pull signal being generated and communicated to the next operation. In manufacturing cell, production begins only when pre­scribed parts are available for each operation. Running minus parts only adds cost and creates the risk of increased defects. U-shaped lines or cells are utilized with equipment positioned in a logical order. The primary objective of the U-shaped design is to have product en­ter and exit at the same position. Ideally one unit enters a manufacturing cell as a completed united exits the cell. The U-shaped cell minimizes material movement and storage. Moving, storing, or handling without process­ing a part are non-value-added operations that add cost, and Figure 1 shows how a carpet manufacturer designed a U-shaped line to reduce these non-value costs.

The U-shaped cell allows the use of successive verification (an operator verifies the work of the previous operation). Successive verification is used in addition to poka-yoke devices to prevent obvious errors from moving further down a manufacturing cell and foster communication and teamwork. Job rotation is used throughout the day or week to ensure trained employees maintain proficiency in each job within a manufac­turing cell or production line. Job rotation can also reduce the occurrence of repetitive motion syndrome. The cross-trained employees within a manufacturing cell or line provide the flexibility of moving people within or between cells to meet fluctuations in demand. Work­ers demonstrate the ability to respond to changes in job content, cycle time, and job assignments so that variations in demand are met quickly and effectively.

Another benefit of Step Eight in lean manufacturing is the reduction of floor space required to produce a product. A data communication supplier reduced required floor space by 45 percent after implementing lean concepts including U-shaped manufacturing cells. Op­erations that were completed on two different floors were consolidated onto the first floor while output in­creased by over 50 percent. A control valve manufacturer who implemented lean and group technology reduced component travel distance from almost 2 miles to 20 feet for the machining operations. By consolidating operations and reducing work in process inventories, the manufacturer of farm equipment was able to reduce required floor space over 40 percent. Savings in floor space have ranged from 30 to 70 percent after implementing lean concepts. In more than one case, companies were able to forgo or elimi­nate the need for expansion by freeing up space in an existing site.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14

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