Streamlining Manufacturing Production with Lean

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Over the years, the emphasis on reducing waste and streamlining the manufacturing process has become more and more prominent. But of course, streamlining shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing quality. We believe that Lean practices apply to the entire business – from the front end, to the back end, from every office to the factory floor. Every element of the process needs to be analyzed, which means leaving the traditional approach behind and focusing on more than just operations.

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 The entire evolution must be customer-focused. Improving the customer experience is the purpose of Lean practices. It’s not about cutting corners; it’s about improving the product quality, eliminating waste, reducing time, and minimizing total cost in the manufacturing process.

Improving process in the office and factory should start with Value Stream Mapping. Value Stream Mapping creates a current and a future state to improve the productivity at every process step. Each step in the process should be value added from a customer perspective. Streamlining the front end is essential to improving the overall lead time of the process. Office processing time can play a significant role in overall lead time, which is particularly relevant to businesses offering custom builds.

The culture of Lean starts at the top and works its way down into the process. Continuous improvement needs to become part of the organization’s DNA. “Working on the business” needs to be as important as all the daily tactical activities needed to successfully function every day. The support and momentum that drive improvement start before the factory. By implementing a Lean process, you are also empowering workers at every step of the way to look at their processes and see the importance of each small part. You are holding each team member accountable to give suggestions to management and other team members on ways to improve efficiency in their positions or on a larger scale across all disciplines within the company.

But naturally, the journey to Lean practices also requires a logical and visual factory flow. A new person on the factory flow should be able to see the logic of the flow from one operation to another throughout the factory processes. If the factory layout is not efficient, a significant amount of time might be wasted between operations.

The wait time, or “queue time”, between process steps is another culprit of sabotaged Lean production. By focusing on reducing the wait time and minimizing the number of handoffs, you can enhance the success of your Lean production. 

As hiccups are identified in a process, Root Cause Analysis is a helpful tool in getting to the bottom of issues that prevent a process from operating efficiently. The root cause of an issue is not always what it seems on the surface. Asking the 5 Whys can help ensure that a team gets to the bottom of a problem.

In order to achieve the results, you need to measure leading indicators to influence the results of lagging indicators. An example of a typically lagging indicator is on-time delivery. The corresponding leading indicators are on-time manufacturing start times, and on-time releases from engineering. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are critical to every business and measuring performance is a must.

Reducing Lead time is paramount for manufacturing companies everywhere. The company that can deliver quality products at a faster pace will beat the competition. Easter-Owens is dedicated to the implementation of the Lean goals and strategies into all our processes. Our journey to success is paved with streamlined, proven processes and solid execution. Contact us today for a quote for your next project.

About Easter Owens
Easter-Owens is a leading family owned 55,000 square foot design and development facility in Arvada, Colorado. The firm’s world-class design and development equipment have helped many corporations produce the controllers and panels that they need. For more information about your specific project, please contact us.


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