An agile workflow using lean principles helps manufacturers quickly adapt to changing customer needs, identify appropriate corrective actions, and shift resources to resolve problems. It leads to productivity gains, consistent quality, and reduced errors. In turn, that adds up to a lower cost of production and a higher profit margin.
The Five Principles of Lean Manufacturing
To create an agile workflow that produces the highest quality in the most efficient manner, manufacturers can implement the five principles of lean manufacturing.
- Identify value.
- Map the value stream.
- Create flow.
- Establish pull.
- Seek perfection.
Identifying value starts with defining what customers value and then examining how you can provide that value.
- Design products to meet customer needs.
- Eliminate features that do not meet those needs.
By focusing on what customers value, manufacturers can eliminate steps or tasks that may have been designed for features that customers don’t need. By defining, measuring, and analyzing what your customers really want, you can streamline your manufacturing process to deliver consistent quality as customers define it.
Map the Value Stream
The value stream is the life cycle of a product, from the design phase to manufacturing, customer use, and product end of life.
- Map the entire product flow life cycle.
- Identify and eliminate steps that do not add value.
Many lean manufacturers use value stream mapping to create flowcharts to document each step in the manufacturing process.
Creating flow is a way to optimize the work process to eliminate unnecessary steps that take time. It can mean reorganizing your facility or finding ways to strategically eliminate the physical steps that operators have to take.
- Do strategic facility reorganization.
- Create a more seamless workflow.
Creating flow also focuses on the manufacturing process as products move through the production pathway. Any way that you can eliminate steps, such as moving to a paperless system, can improve your workflow.
Traditional manufacturing production systems use a “push” approach. It starts with buying supplies and then pushing material through the manufacturing process when there isn’t an order ready to go. This can result in inventory overstock and increase the amount of Work in Progress.
By comparison, lean manufacturing principles advocate for a “pull” approach. As a customer’s order is pulled for shipping, this prompts new items to be manufactured and additional supplies to be purchased. It’s a subtle difference that can have a profound impact.
The final step in applying lean management principles is the drive to seek perfection. It sounds simple, but this can be one of the most difficult things to implement. It takes a measured hand and commitment to constantly evaluate processes for improvement.
- Have continuous improvement programs.
- Seek sustained improvement.
The lean philosophy of kaizen comes into play here. It focuses on continuously employing small changes to incrementally improve. In Japanese, kaizen means to change for the better. In lean manufacturing, it involves creating a culture dedicated to improvement. Small, incremental changes can lead to continuous and sustained improvement.
The Benefits of Lean Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing strategies provide a wealth of benefits, including:
- Reduced production time
- Reduced inventory size
- Less material handling
- Increased output
- Elimination of overproduction or underproduction
- Elimination of errors
- Less waste, scrap, and rework
By creating a more efficient workflow and streamlined process, service-based manufacturers and Additive Manufacturers can realize greater profitability.
How Bluestreak | Bright AM Enables Lean Manufacturing
One of the biggest challenges for Additive Manufacturers is producing consistent and reliable quality to meet customer requirements. Without an AM quality control program using end-to-end production pathway tracking and automation, Additive Manufacturers can’t meet customers’ demands.
It takes proactive recognition and elimination of risk with a manufacturing execution system (MES) and quality management system (QMS) to drive quality and implement lean manufacturing.
Bluestreak | Bright AM is an innovative and extensible MES/QMS that was built for Additive Manufacturing. It provides better manufacturing production control and workflow management with powerful tools that drive quality from the front office directly to the production floor.
Using a paperless workflow, Bright AM captures and reports real-time data. This eliminates information silos and puts accurate, up-to-date information in the hands of everyone who needs it.
Enhanced Process Control
With end-to-end production pathway control, every step in the process is recorded. Bluestreak | Bright AM has built-in traceability and trackability to identify any conflicts in the process, quickly recognize quality issues, and help define any necessary corrective and preventive action associated with a load or operational step.
Improved Quality Control
Bright AM automatically creates a fully documented and secure audit trail, including control plans, sampling plans, and part quality control. Statistical Process Control tracks results in real time and helps you spot trends before the process becomes problematic.
Bright AM removes many of the hurdles that prevent companies from adopting lean manufacturing principles to optimize their AM process and reduce operational costs.
Incorporating Lean Manufacturing Principles
If you’re in the business of Additive Manufacturing, you need an MES/QMS that is built for AM. To incorporate lean manufacturing principles in your facility, you need Bright AM to provide the visibility, process control, and quality control that you need.
When your quality control process needs improvement, you’re wasting time and money. You are also putting future business at risk, and we know how small of an industry this can be. Dissatisfied customers tend to spread the word to their colleagues, which can hurt future sales. Recognize the warning signs and take action today by contacting Bluestreak | Bright AM.
If your service includes Additive Manufacturing, we provide specific solutions in our Bright AM software. To request an Additive Manufacturing software demo, click here!