Lean manufacturing principles are implemented to improve quality and reduce waste. View an [Infographic]: What is Lean Manufacturing and how can it help you?
Inventory represents one of the largest sources of waste in the manufacturing industry.
- Maintaining too much inventory—raw materials and finished products—absorbs excess cost in capital, inventory, and space.
- Inventory shortages lead to downtime, as well as rush shipping charges and a dip in customer satisfaction.
Just-In-Time manufacturing practices focus on creating the ideal balance of inventory and workflow, to avoid excess and shortages.
The concept is attributed to the legendary Toyota Production System (TPS).
Although they are similar in many ways, JIT and Lean Manufacturing have some fundamental differences.
JIT manufacturing focuses on efficiency.
Lean manufacturing combines the need for efficiency in equal parts with increasing value to the customer.
The Toyota Production System reduced inventory and production to meet short-term needs, relying on a supply chain that could deliver materials as needed, without delay.
By applying this approach, Toyota realized a 50% cut in production costs and a 30% reduction in lead time on orders.
Lean manufacturing takes JIT to another level.
Toyota looked at the manufacturing process with the objective of ensuring that every step adds value to the customer’s desires.
It’s not just about maintaining balance in production and inventory, but rather, managing a value stream that never loses sight of the customer’s experience with the product.
For example, if a customer wants quality with affordability, it doesn’t make sense to add costs to the manufacturing of the product.
Lean manufacturing principles might look at variable costs, like the location of the distribution center and supply chain, to reduce transportation and logistics costs.
When this value stream has been filtered, the production flows more efficiently.
JIT delivers balance that contributes to efficiency. Lean manufacturing ensures that value to the customer is the priority, and then adjusts efficiency to achieve that goal in a manner that remains profitable.
For more information about lean manufacturing and just-in-time processes, download “The Factory of the Future: A practical guide to harnessing new value in manufacturing,” a whitepaper by Zebra Technologies.
About the Author:
RAD DeRose is the President & CEO of L-Tron Corporation. He has over 30 years experience in industrial automation and data collection technology solutions and brings a deep industry knowledge-base on the challenges faced in the commercial and public safety sectors. RAD can be reached at (800) 830-9523 x114; rad.derose@L-Tron.com.