Lean production is a business philosophy that aims for businesses to identify and eliminate factors that cause waste in business processes, and to provide value to customers by increasing efficiency and quality. According to Lean, waste is anything that does not add value to the customer and for which the customer is not willing to pay. Identifying and eliminating these inefficiencies provides businesses with many benefits such as customer satisfaction, cost savings, profitability and quality. The benefits of Lean cause the Lean Manufacturing methodology to be adopted and implemented by many different sectors. There are some basic techniques that businesses can apply in the lean implementation processes. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 lean techniques that improve production processes.
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Lean manufacturing practices are the application of a set of techniques commonly used by businesses operating in the field of manufacturing to strategically overhaul their operations and increase process efficiency. Lean production application is realized by integrating Lean principles and techniques such as 5S, Kaizen, Total Productivity Maintenance and Gemba into business processes. The aim of Lean is to eliminate waste sources such as excess inventory, waiting, overproduction, transportation, overprocessing, movement and defects within business activities by applying these techniques. Eliminating these inefficiencies is considered a significant success for the business.
Lean thinking is a continuous effort to eliminate factors that do not add any value to the product, that is, to reduce waste. In order to achieve this in the most accurate way, there are basic lean techniques widely used by businesses. These techniques are as follows:
Kaizen is formed by combining the Japanese words “kai” and “zen” and means change for the better. Kaizen focuses on small changes rather than major changes made all at once. In other words, the Kaizen technique aims to increase efficiency and achieve improvements by making small, regular and incremental changes in processes. Kaizen philosophy accepts that small changes will create big effects in the future.
Proactive participation of employees is very important in the implementation of the Kaizen technique. In other words, Kaizen values suggestions and ideas from employees. The reason why employee participation is important is that all employees have a stake in the success of the business and everyone should strive to improve processes.
The essence of the 5S technique is based on “everything has its place and everything is in its place”. This technique focuses on maintaining order and safety in the workplace. Therefore, incorporating 5S as part of daily tasks in a workplace means that ongoing cleaning, maintenance and inspection activities are more efficient. The aim of 5S is to create the discipline necessary for continuous improvement by creating an efficient and effective workspace.
5S, as its name suggests, consists of five basic principles. These principles are as follows:
Sort (seiri): The sort principle of 5S focuses on determining workplace items as necessary and unnecessary and removing unnecessary items. In this way, there are only necessary, frequently used items in the workplace, and more space is created by eliminating clutter in the workplace.
Set in Order (seiton): The principle of seiton states that the items decided to remain in the workplace should be arranged efficiently and effectively. According to this principle, each item should have a specific place and the items should be easily found.
Shine (seiso): The principle of seiso is the principle that ensures that the workplace is clean and orderly. To implement this principle, cleaning routines should be established in the workplace, cleaning tasks should be determined and regular checks should be carried out.
Standardization (seiketsu): This principle ensures that 5S practices are maintained continuously by standardizing them.
Sustain (shitsuke): Sustain is the principle that is effective in implementing the other four steps. This principle focuses on maintaining 5S processes in a disciplined manner. Only thanks to this discipline, the workplace will continue to be organized, safe and efficient.
In a business or production context, Gemba refers to the physical location where work is done. When implementing lean manufacturing, the Gemba technique involves managers going to the site where work is being done to identify problems that exist in a business process or production line and to see the status of the process. The purpose of the Gemba walk is to understand the current situation through direct observation and questioning before taking any action.
One of the techniques used when implementing lean manufacturing is Total Productivity Maintenance. Total Productivity Maintenance (TPM) is a management approach that aims to maximize the efficiency of production equipment and systems to ensure business success. TPM encompasses a broad strategy to improve facility maintenance to eliminate equipment failures, defects, accidents, and waste.
The goal of TPM is to increase overall efficiency by optimizing equipment availability. For TPM to achieve this goal, it requires preventive maintenance, ongoing training, and effective collaboration between production and maintenance personnel.
Root cause analysis (RCA) focuses on systematically uncovering the root causes behind problems to identify appropriate solutions. This approach emphasizes the importance of preventing and resolving underlying problems rather than simply addressing immediate symptoms and managing crises. Root cause analysis helps reveal the causes of a current situation or an unproductive event, thanks to techniques and methodologies. With root cause analysis, businesses gain a deeper understanding of where processes or systems are failing and why they are creating a problem.
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