Lean Manufacturing Results Benefit Customers
Lean Manufacturing experts say that implementing Lean methodologies is a journey without a destination. Acme Industries has been serious about its Lean Manufacturing journey for the last 5 years and we have learned many things, including that there are no silver bullets or quick fixes. Lean is a journey that can produce significant results if pursued with focus, applied resources, and a willingness to change.
Acme’s first step on its Lean journey was to add a totally dedicated resource to lead the initiative. The next step was to start with the standard approach of first implementing 5S, which involves instilling discipline in the workplace by organizing each work station and removing all unnecessary material. Concurrent activity involved cross functional work teams that gathered for Kaizen events to identify and eliminate waste. One particular area of focus was reducing the setup time between batches of parts flowing through the operation. Another popular Lean tool is Value Stream Mapping, which Acme did for the wide variety of parts that Acme machines. That analysis resulted in segmenting Acme’s parts into four different value streams. Rather than stop there, Acme Industries redesigned its Supply Chain organization into value streams to manage the different segments of parts in order to streamline activities and enhance the interfaces with customers as well as suppliers. An outgrowth of the increased value stream focus was a realization that setups could be eliminated entirely for some lower volume parts and the scheduling simplified to be done on a pull basis.
The impact of these Lean Manufacturing activities for one of Acme’s customers is described in more detail in a case study. Acme was able to proactively offer savings of 6-12% for several parts as a result of eliminating the setups for those parts. Acme’s customer, challenged as many companies are today to be more competitive, benefited by Acme’s contribution to its success as part of its Beyond Precision Value Promise.