Monday, July 30, 2012
The Basics of Lean Certification
Lean certification is applied to manufacturing for the purpose of increasing output while cutting costs and lessening the overall impact on the environment. There are a number of individual building blocks that make up the lean certification philosophy. In order to be certified as a lean manufacturing individual, these basic building blocks must be learned and one must pass an exam to demonstrate an understand of these principles.
One of the first concepts associated with lean training is the Kaizen method of continuous improvement. The Kaizen method dates back to just after World War II. It was a practice that the Japanese developed for manufacturing. It literally means "change for the better", and involves a process where all the employees are trained to spot possible inefficiencies and report them to a team leader, who is authorized to immediate put changes in place. The Kaizen method is incorporated into the lean manufacturing philosophy.
There is often a component labeled as "green" in the process. This refers to recognizing the amount of energy used in the manufacturing process and looking for ways to reduce energy usage. Energy is expensive, and in some cases, one of the most expensive costs of producing an item. Conserving is an integral part of this process. Being "green" also refers to containment of waste produced while producing an item. Waste reduction and management is a large part of the green consideration.
When one hears the word "cellular" one thinks of a hand-held communication device. In the context of lean technology, cellular refers to being modular, or creating cells of activity. By creating small cells of equipment and laborers, a company is in a more flexible position to respond to changes in demand. To increase demand, one can increase the number of cells quicker than making trying to upscale an entire manufacturing line. It takes less capital to build another cell, and cells are movable. That is, they can transported to different parts of the country to go where the demand is highest.
Other areas include learning change-over techniques. A change-over refers to using the same equipment to make a different piece of the product. By reducing change-over time, supply can increase quickly in response to demand.
Using the pull method of determining demand means that consumption is the key driver of measuring demand rather than forecasting. As sales increase, manufacturing supply is incrementally increased in proportion.
Finally, the goal of lean manufacturing is to involve every aspect of the company, rather than just the production line. Finance, management, and procurement are all included in the constant improvement process. This way, efficiencies are produced throughout the entire company structure, and costs are held down when demand goes up.