Lean Design in Manufacturing
The goal of Lean Design is to arrange a production line as a series of sequential workstations so that you can build a product progressively. By arranging workstations to work progressively, flow lines facilitate the implementation of quality steps that double check critical product features.
The term we use to describe this type of production is "Mixed Model". Designing a Mixed Model production lines allows you to link and balance your processes, which eliminates waiting time and allows your materials to flow. The benefits of designing a Mixed Model production line include:
Reduced customer response time
Shortened Manufacturing Cycle Time
Less floor space is required
Quality is improved
Less Working Capital is required
It is common to see Manufacturing Cycle Time improvements of 70% or 80% or even 90% when a manufacturer switches from traditional batch scheduling to a Mixed Model methodology.
How does Mixed Model production work?
A Mixed Model production line is designed to build a family of products using the same manufacturing resources. The advantages of mixing products in one line are many including the capacity to absorb swings in customer demand. A Mixed Model line requires planning or scheduling to build product, but that function takes place at the line level, rather than at the individual resource level. Products flow from process to process without interruptions, accumulating standard work toward their point of completion.
If you feel like you are conducting endless Kaizen events, there's a good chance it is because your production line was not designed correctly in the first place. Applying continuous improvement to a poorly designed line can actually become a form of waste. As Lean thought-leader Jim Womack put it:
“Is an organization’s skill in after-the-fact Kaizen – that is, its talent for process rework – actually reducing the pressure for the hard conversations about lean process development that ought to be taking place during product development instead?”
The solution to endless Kaizen events is what we call "Lean Industrial Engineering." Lean Industrial Engineering is the act of designing -- and implementing -- your manufacturing processes so that they flow seamlessly from one process to the next, without delays or mistakes.
Lean "Philosophy" is not enough
Incorporating Lean concepts into the physical design of your production line will guarantee far greater results than simply buying into an abstract philosophy. Lean Industrial Engineering will give you quantifiable results in terms of operator productivity, reducing your required floor space, and freeing up working capital.
At Leonardo Group Americas both of our Principals have 25+ years of experience designing Lean production lines and material management systems.
We've broken the Lean Industrial Engineering process into two major categories:
For the past several years, we have partnered with Toyota Material Handling in order to bring these workshops to hundreds of Lean Specialists, Industrial Engineers, and Supply Chain Professionals.
Large-scale production line redesigns occur once or twice in the entire career of most industrial engineers. We have completed thousands of line designs. Our proven set of steps has been successfully implemented by the biggest names in industry.