Understanding Lean Manufacturing

One of the hottest topics in the business world today is a school of thought that goes by the name of Lean Manufacturing. You’ve probably heard of it. Yet, you may not fully understand how important it is to modern manufacturers. So here’s a quick guide.

The philosophy of Lean Manufacturing evolved from the pioneering efforts of leaders at the Toyota Motor Corp. to improve their production processes, which became known as the Toyota Production System. (This is why certain precepts in Lean Manufacturing go by Japanese names.) Originally, the Toyota system was a streamlining process to efficiently reach “just in time” (JIT) manufacturing of automobiles, but it grew into an entire business philosophy for the carmaker. Its goals were to minimize overburden (muri), inconsistency (mura), and waste (muda). They were summarized in Toyota’s Six Rules:

  • Do not send defective products to the subsequent process.
  • The subsequent process comes to withdraw only what is needed.
  • Produce only the exact quantity that was withdrawn by the subsequent process.
  • Level the production.
  • Kanban is a means of fine tuning.
  • Stabilize and rationalize the process.

Eventually, word of the Toyota system spread to carmakers in the Unites States. An engineering grad student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, John Krafcik, came up with the term “Lean Production System” in 1988 to describe the Toyota approach. Shortly after, Jim Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos of MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program co-authored a book on the subject called The Machine That Changed the World, which became a bestseller and spread the principles of Lean Manufacturing to the world.

These days, the methods embodied in Lean Manufacturing have been implemented by some of the biggest and best manufacturers in America (please see the videos for GE and Atlas Copco for examples). Here at Coiling Technologies, we’ve started our Lean Vision by developing our employees with Lean training. We are currently doing 5’s Kaizen events across the entire company. 5’s is an essential Lean Manufacturing tool, which is going to help us establish the necessary stability needed for a Lean Culture.  Training your employees is the first step towards a Lean Transformation; the second is the implementation of 5’s.

Because we understand the demands placed upon companies today, we employ reliable, fast, and cost-effective technologies to design and engineer your custom springs. Our rejection rate is less than 1%, and we maintain a 95% plus on-time delivery record (which we have recently increased by 30%). We make sure the highest quality products get where they are needed, when they are needed. We understand the importance of Lean Manufacturing.

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