Waste is worse than loss. The time is coming when every person who lays claim to ability will keep the question of waste before him constantly. The scope of thrift is limitless. -Thomas A. Edison
Of the many management philosophies that have made a huge impact on the way businesses operate all over the world, one of the most influential ones is 'Lean Manufacturing'. Popularized by the success of Toyota, which rose from being a small company to one of the biggest car makers in the world, the eternal principles of lean manufacturing, based on 'Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)' and 'Reduction of Waste in all its forms' are truly inspiring. Incorporation of these principles will not only help businesses improve productivity in every aspect, but it can also mold employees of value, who are the true asset of any company.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing is all about creating value by bringing in fierce efficiency in every aspect of production, by minimizing wastefulness in all its manifestations. With its origins in eastern philosophy of 'Kaizen', lean manufacturing focuses on reduction of 'Muda' which is the Japanese word for anything in a manufacturing or business process, that is wasteful or not directed towards increase in productivity or quality. This management philosophy identifies seven prime causes that reduce the efficiency of a business process, which includes waste due to product defects, delay, inventory problems, worker or equipment problems, excess production, transportation problems and overwork or over-processing.
The prime focus of this philosophy is on continuous improvement in the process to create a quality product. By maximizing the utilization of material and human resources to the hilt and relying on the principle of utilitarianism, this philosophy is aimed at creating value. Lean manufacturing principles have now been applied in every industrial sector ranging from information technology to hospitality industry to create world-class products. Let us see what are the prime benefits of embracing this philosophy, which is focused on reducing inefficiency in all its forms, without compromising on the quality of the end product.
Advantages of Lean Manufacturing
So what are the advantages of fighting inefficiency and waste in all its forms through constant innovation and efficient use of resources? Here are some of the most important ones.
Maximum Utilization of Space, Time, Materials and Human Resources
This management philosophy encourages that every single piece of investment, which includes time, space, raw materials and human resources are used efficiently. This leads to complete utilization of all resources, reducing waste and maximizing output.
Reduction of Manufacturing Costs
When every resource is economically used, overproduction is discouraged, all excesses are avoided and cost control is focused upon, naturally the cost of production goes down, which ensures that every penny invested provides a sizable return on investment.
Improvement in Product Quality
The business or manufacturing process is never set in stone and keeps evolving constantly through innovation with a focus on improving product quality. As an overall impact of incremental improvements, a high quality product is the end result. Quality is what the end consumer is looking for and adoption of this philosophy encourages its improvement.
Creation of an Efficient Work Force
Lean manufacturing creates a work force that knows what it takes to create a product of value. Demanding efficiency in every aspect of work creates employees of skill that can deliver under pressure, making them your most important resource in a business.
An Atmosphere Ripe for Innovation
With such a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement in place, innovation is what automatically follows. New paradigm shifting ideas grow in such an atmosphere, leading to breakthroughs that can profit the business in long term.
Increase in Product Sales and Profits
When you reduce production costs, promote innovation and constantly improve product quality, there is naturally going to be an improvement in sales and profits of the business as you develop a loyal customer base who swear by the quality of your products.
I am sure that anybody who realizes the benefits of lean manufacturing and studies this philosophy in further detail, will eventually become a believer. Like organisms evolving through evolution, ideas evolve too and only the 'smartest' survive. In these times of economic recession, lean manufacturing is the philosophy which can rejuvenate failing enterprises and increase productivity of businesses, enabling them to compete at the global level. If I have ignited enough curiosity in your mind to explore lean manufacturing in greater detail, the objective of writing this article will be well accomplished.