Lean thinking in manufacturing has always been a practical means to that most desirable end: A better quality product produced in less time at lower cost. For the past two decades, manufacturers have constantly striven for tight integration of shop floor activities, hopefully resulting in a streamlined environment capable of achieving this Lean sense of “perfection”.
In more basic terms, at its core Lean thinking is informed by the goal of shop waste minimization through the elimination of those activities that do not add value to the product. Simultaneously, the use of scarcer resources is maximized, such as capital investment and personnel. However, while capital investment in tooling and infrastructure (i.e., building, land, etc.) is encumbered by a sense of being “fixed” with regards to improvements in efficiency, the human side of the manufacturing process (i.e., personnel) has much greater flexibility in terms of being able to make immediate adjustments in process toward a better way of doing things. (more…)