Improving Production with Lean Thinking
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Improving Production with Lean Thinking

Javier Santos, Richard A. Wysk, Jose M. Torres

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eBook - ePub

Improving Production with Lean Thinking

Javier Santos, Richard A. Wysk, Jose M. Torres

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About This Book

Unique coverage of manufacturing management techniques--complete with cases and real-world examples. Improving Production with Lean Thinking picks up where other references on production processes leave off. It is increasingly important to integrate and systematize lean thinking throughout production/manufacturing and the supply chain because the market is becoming more competitive, products are becoming more complex, and product life is getting shorter and shorter. With a practical focus, this book encompasses the science and analytical background for improving manufacturing, control, and design. It covers specific methodologies and tools for:
* Material flow and facilities layout, including a six step layout design process
* The design of cellular layouts
* Analyzing and improving equipment efficiency, including Poka-Yoke, motion study, maintenance, SMED, and more
* Environmental improvements, including 5S implementation
With real-life case studies of successful European and American approaches to lean manufacturing, this reference is ideal for engineers, managers, and researchers in manufacturing and production facilities as well as students. It bridges the gap between production/manufacturing and supply chain techniques and provides a detailed roadmap to improved factory performance.

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Continuous Improvement Tools

Asian culture has had a significant impact on the rest of the world. Other cultures have learned and adopted many words frequently used in our daily languages related to martial arts, religion, or food.
Within the business environment, Japan has contributed greatly to the language of business with numerous concepts that represent continuous improvement tools (kaizen tools) and with production philosophies such as just-in-time. Just-in-time (JIT) philosophy is also known as lean manufacturing. In this first chapter, both of these production philosophies will be discussed.
Another important philosophy that will be studied in this book is the concept developed by a Japanese consultant named Kobayashi. This concept is based on a methodology of 20 keys leading business on a course of continuous improvement (kaizen). These 20 keys also will be presented in this chapter.
Finally, in this introductory chapter the production core elements will be presented in order to focus on improvement actions. In addition, a resource rate to measure improvement results is also explained.


Continuous improvement is a management philosophy based on employees’ suggestions. It was developed in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, some of the most important improvements took place when this idea or philosophy arrived in Japan. Japan was already using tools such as quality circles, so when Japanese managers combined these two ideas, kaizen was born.
Before embarking onto kaizen, it is important to remark first about a contribution from Henry Ford. In 1926, Henry Ford wrote:
To standardize a method is to choose out of the many methods the best one, and use it. Standardization means nothing unless it means standardizing upward.
Today’s standardization, instead of being a barricade against improvement, is the necessary foundation on which tomorrow’s improvement will be based.
If you think of ‘‘standardization’’ as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow—you get somewhere. But if you think of standards as confining, then progress stops.
Creating a usable and meaningful standard is key to the success of any enterprise. It is not the solution but is the target on which change can be focused. Using this standard, businesses usually use two different kinds of improvements: those that suppose a revolution in the way of working and those that suppose smaller benefits with less investment that are also very important.
In production systems, evolutionary as well as revolutionary change is supported through product and process innovations, as is shown in Fig. 1.1.
The evolution consists of continuous improvements being made in both the product and the process. A rapid and radical change process is sometimes used as a precursor to kaizen activities. This radical change is referred to as kaikaku in Japanese. These revolutions are carried out by the use of methodologies such as process reengineering and a major product redesign. These kinds of innovations require large investments and are based, in many cases, on process automation. In the United States, these radical activities frequently are called kaizen blitzes.
Figure 1.1. The concept of continuous improvement versus reengineering.
If the process is being improved constantly, as shown in Fig. 1.2 (continuous line), the innovation effort required to make a major change can be reduced, and this is what kaizen does (dotted line on the left). While some companies focus on meeting standards, small improvements still can be made in order to reduce these expensive innovation processes. Hence innovation processes and kaizen are extremely important. Otherwise, the process of reengineering to reach the final situation can become very expensive (dotted line on the right).
This book presents several continuous improvement tools, most based on kaizen, which means improvements from employees’ suggestions. As a result, all employees are expected to participate.


In order to improve (quality, cost, and time) production activities, it is necessary to know the source of a factory’s problem(s). However, in order to find the factory’s problem, it is important to define and understand the source and core of the problem. Here it is critical to note that variability in both quality and productivity are considered major problems.
Any deviation from the standard value of a variable (quality and production rate) presents a problem. It is necessary to know what the variable objective is (desired standard) and what the starting situation (present situation) is in order to propose a realistic objective. There are three main factors that production managers fear most: (1) poor quality, (2) an increase in production cost, and (3) an increase in lead time. These three factors are signs of poor ...

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