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Lean Manufacturing Implementation in 6 Steps

Lean manufacturing is the optimization of practices, processes, and habits of the worker by using the Lean principles. The purpose is to work smarter, innovate quickly, and produce more value for the customers. Lean manufacturing implementation is a long and complex process. However, we try to summarize what it takes to have such efficiency in this article. 

1. Find the reasons why you need lean manufacturing implementation

First of all, a manufacturer should realize what they are doing. They have a daily routine to produce something but have they asked themselves why things are the way they are? This is a tough question, but we can’t start without the answer. 

Remember, Lean can transform not only your production process but also the entire organizational structure and culture. Therefore, you should be able to translate the necessity of fundamental changes in your company.

Why should there be changes? Are you looking for a new way to connect with your customers, new ways to innovate, increase your profitability, or win the global competition? Whatever it is, make sure you think about it clearly and draft how you’re going to socialize it. 

2. Evaluate the fitness of the company

After finding the goals of Lean manufacturing, do an evaluation to see the recent condition of your company. This stage aims to assess the ability of the company to commit to implementation. You should review:

  • The stability and quality of the products 
  • The availability of machines and line
  • Problem solver individuals. To carry out the implementation Measurement System Analysis (MSA) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) are required. 

Then, determine the key people that will manage the implementation process. If no staff at the company has ever been involved in Lean implementation, then hire a trainer that can guide you throughout the process. 

3. Start socializing the program

Now, it’s time for you to formally introduce the program to all levels of the organization. It might take days, especially when you are presenting to the boards of directors. They should know what is being reduced or eliminated, the takt, OEE calculation, line balancing, and others.

After the presentation ends, determine what kind of training that the key people need. There is a lot to learn in Lean principles. So, make sure that the training sessions are compact. It prevents the individual from forgetting the materials. 

4. Create value stream mapping

The purpose of this activity is to understand the workflow of the new production process. It records all the new activities in Lean and identifies the waste, reduces cycle time, and implements new improvements. 

There are a lot of activities in value stream mapping. Therefore, make sure you utilize Kanban to help you visualize processes, accountability, and work structure. 

5. Implementing the Lean strategies

In the value stream mapping, there should be an explanation of how to:

  • Synchronize the product supply with customer demands without overproduction or excessive inventory. 
  • Synchronize production processes by dividing work in progress effectively to complete all orders with minimal lead time. 
  • Create a new production flow by reducing inventory, distances of each station, defect, and unnecessary activity.
  • Implement a pull-demand system where production begins if there is an order. This system helps you reduce the overhead, optimize inventory, and save storage spaces. 

While implementing it, use an ERP system for manufacturing that provides you information on inventory performance, machines, WIP, production duration in real-time. This system also helps you in implementing the pull-demand system by streamlining order management and production planning. 

Don’t forget to document this process in the Gantt Chart.

6. Sustain the improvements

Lean principles include the concept of how to sustain the improvement. In this last step, you should make sure that these improvements are continuous. Your company should always maintain the focus on activities that bring more values and eliminate those who don’t.

This sustainability can be achieved with the Plan-Do-Check-Act method. It helps you to enhance project management, product lifecycle, human resource, and supply chain management. 

Moreover, the manager should be able to lead well. They have to make the employees have a sense of owning their tasks. Put trust in them so that they can perform at their best.

The bottom line

Lean manufacturing implementation should be done systematically. It starts with the planning process (point 1-3), execution (point 4-5), and continuous improvement (point 6). We recommend doing this gradually and slowly. Take time to completely absorb the Lean principles or otherwise, this implementation will fail. However, if you can carry out all steps well, we’re sure your company’s success rate is high.

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