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Lean manufacturing in its essence is “a commerce proposal to reduce waste in manufactured goods. The fundamental plan is to reduce the cost scientifically, throughout the product and fabrication development, by means of a succession of business reviews”. It is about making incremental improvements in the production process, whilst including all parties involved, in order to become more efficient while reducing waste.
Reducing waste is a big part of lean manufacturing and Taiichi Ohno, who was a Toyota engineer that came up with the Toyota Production System (TPS) categorized 7 types of waste:
In our setup, waste minimization is paramount to our success. Production will be carried out as per orders without sitting on a large inventory. This will also account for change in fashion and trends. Proper material planning and forecasting will be conducted in order to prevent bottlenecks down the line. In line with “unnecessary motions”, we will strive to create the most ergonomic work flow on the line for the benefit of the shop floor employees.
All employees will be encouraged to speak up and come up with ideas on how to make the production line more efficient and to flag any potential problems. As there are many production stations along the line, each one can be made more efficient and who better to know that then the actual people working on them.
Continuous improvement is one of the basic tenants of Kaizen, a Japanese management method that focuses on continuous improvement at all times. In essence, Kaizen is: “an approach in which every one of the people working at a production site considers measures to improve quality and productivity by doing whatever they can to reduce waste in the production process and implement such measures in their jobs”. From this definition we can clearly see the Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen are closely related. We will of course be implementing Kaizen in our factory and strive to collaboratively continue to improve every part of the production line, as well as all of the administrative procedures that feed it.
A pull system in manufacturing refers to the production process which is triggered by demand. That is to say, inventory is kept to a minimum and minimal stock is kept. Once an order comes through, the entire production line starts in order to meet that order. This as well is within the scope of Lean Manufacturing or Kaizen, and allows to have minimal waste while still being able to produce quickly and efficiently based on actual orders. The major difference between pull systems and push systems is that a pull system is based on “Make to Order” while a push system is based on “Make to Stock”. We will be using a pull system where production will be made to order, with minimal stock and inventory.
Setup reduction refers to the time it takes to setup the production machines to make a specific batch. In line with the above, most of our machines will be setup specifically for each batch (order) which is something that will have to be considered when scheduling is done. However, the only stations that need a special setup are those machines that punch out the different pieces that make up the jeans according to size. These machines are fitted with special die cuts, which differ in size to accommodate for all the range of sizes that are offered. The replacement of these dies is fairly simple and does not take more than 30 minutes (for both fitting and adjusting).
Total preventive maintenance
Because Lean Manufacturing is about very low inventory and continues improvement, any breakdown in the production line can cause a major shift in the scheduling. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the machines are kept in the best of shape and to conduct preventive maintenance in order to minimize and breakdowns. This can be done via daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual maintenance schedule where certain actions are being implemented to keep the machines running smoothly.
For example, at the end of every day, each workstation must be cleared of all lint and debris, and using compresses air, to clear out any material that might have been lodged in the machine. Every month a certain part should be lubricated or if it’s a consumable, replaced. Most of these actions can be done by the machine operators, but more technical actions should be conducted with the support of the machine manufacturer and a certified engineer.
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