Lean No Less Important
Lean manufacturing shouldn’t become lost in the shuffle of today’s emerging part-production technologies, strategies and approaches.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), additive manufacturing and collaborative robotics are emerging technologies that will change the nature of how manufacturers make parts. In a growing number of instances, they already are changing the nature of how manufacturers make parts. That’s why it is important that we cover these topics in our magazine, this blog, our various social media channels and so on.
That said, the concept of lean manufacturing should remain at top of mind for all parts producers out there. In fact, I plan to revisit this topic in a story for our July issue, describing how a shop’s efforts in cultivating a lean culture is enabling it to grow and win a greater amount of aerospace work.
The title of this article might be something like “What Comes After 5S?” Many shops start their lean journey by implementing 5S workplace organization tactics, as did the shop I’m hoping to profile. However, I’d like this article to describe the next steps after 5S as it worked to establish its lean-manufacturing mindset and culture of continuous improvement.
In addition to appearing in our magazine, the story will be added to our website’s Lean Manufacturing Zone, which contains stories about other machining facilities that have made a lean transformation. For example:
- This one explains how a contract shop leveraged lean as a means to help it manageably control growth.
- This one describes how a job shop can integrate lean manufacturing into its DNA.
- This one describes what an A3 problem-solving process is all about and how an industrial equipment manufacturer uses it.
- And this one offers an overview of what 5S is all about.
Sustainably streamlining production of a varied mix of low-volume work depends not only on a strategy tailored for job shops, but also on human drive and enthusiasm.
Classic lean manufacturing principles are practically taken as gospel, but benefits can be elusive for manufacturers that produce a variety of parts in low volumes. This shop took a different approach to lean—one aided by software that helped identify a more efficient machine layout based patterns in part routings.
In addition to the right mix of traditional strategies, a new lean manufacturing toolkit can make high-mix, low-volume machining faster, more predictable and less expensive.