There is a myriad of lean manufacturing tools to help drive out waste and improve efficiency in your business. In fact, there are possibly Hundreds of what are referred to as ‘Tools’ to assist you in your drive for continuous improvement and an embedded Lean Culture.
There are arguably, though, about 5-10 key tools, which one would expect to use most of the time and are the bedrock for Lean. Sure, you may wish to delve deeper at times or focus a number of dedicated tools in a certain problematic area of the Business, but the following Lean Tools below, will give a decent insight.
The standard lean manufacturing tools:
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) – Develops a visual map, illustrating the plant’s material and information flow, that provides the vision and path to a Lean transformation. It allows you to see waste and focus improvement kaizens more strategically on areas in the Value Stream.
5S + 1 – Sort/Set in Order/Shine/Standardise/Sustain + Safety – Provides a clean, organised and efficient work area to increase productivity and improve safety. 5S is one of the blue prints for Lean as it creates the first levels of standardisation and cultural change.Visual Management – Provides a standardised factory “look” that deploys visual aids, which allows everyone to know clearly and precisely what the production status is and accompanying metrics at any given time.
Standard Work –
Creates a single, clearly communicated method for accomplishing every task.
Reduces variation in a process, and also in the advance level, allows the whole
process to balance to true Customer demand (TAKT)using the optimum inventory,
resource and time.
Quality Control Process Charts (QCPC) – Monitors process performance and allows you to see where the common issues are. Once understood, you can perform Root Cause Analysis to perform corrective action adn eliminate those factors which are a drain on the process.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) – Restores equipment to like-new condition, increases uptime of machines, and engages employees to focus on reduction of downtime.
Set Up Reduction (SUR) – Increases machine flexibility and efficiency by using tools and processes that reduce the time a machine is stopped for change overs.
Error Proofing – Prevents mistakes by modifying tools and processes so that there is a single method for accomplishing a task and that chances of errors are drastically reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Material Replenishment and Flow – Provide easily understood processes for just-in-time inventory replenishment.
Cell Design – Optimises the layout of current equipment and resource to maximize quality and efficiency.
Six Sigma – Reduces process variability using statistical techniques, therefore increasing process output consistency.
Voice of the Customer (VOC) – Captures and analyses customer feedback by using multiple channels of communication – remember, the first principle of Lean is to understand what the customer wants!
Think of Lean Tools as a tool box. You use one of the tools, or indeed a number of the tools, depending on what process or area in the Business you are trying to improve.
When used, each of the lean manufacturing tools allows you to identify the waste in the particular process you are looking at, and then configure improvement opportunities to create efficiency gains.