Author: Paul Henriques in: Management
There is a method to work. It is an always evolving logic that varies from work type to work type with the goal always being improving profit through higher productivity/ efficiency. In recent years, one of the leading methods for manufacturing work has been Lean. However, ongoing changes to the global supply chain have some questioning the capabilities of Lean to properly handle the modern manufacturing reality, namely those that require more rapid responses to their market forces.
Their answer is to bring in the most commonly used work methodology from software: Agile. With issues continuing in the supply chain and the ever-growing need for more customized items from consumers, many Agile supporters firmly believe that this is the best way forward for manufacturers.
Since the beginning of work, people have studied how it can be done better, faster, and with less errors. The ongoing development of ideas eventually led to Dr. Deming’s 14 key principles, which led to TPS, TQM, and other less known quality and work management methods. The evolution of these, in turn, led to Six Sigma and Lean.
All these management techniques revolve around the matter of creating a culture of accountability and innovation, which leads to an active workforce that is engaged in self improvement, process improvement, and quality improvement. And these improvements lead to happier customers, better productivity, and a safer workplace.
Of the many methods that have been created, Lean has seen the greatest number of implementations in recent years. With its focus on eliminating waste by targeting DOWNTIME, it works well to improve process efficiency and efficacy by targeting steps that add value to the customer and reducing inventory, wait times, and material usage. It takes a steady hand to understand the important matters to action but any company that properly implements Lean has seen an improvement to their customer satisfaction and their profits.
Lean Manufacturing is more suited to mass production, where your:
The Lean method involves a systematic approach to cutting waste, which improves the tasks and processes that add value for your customer. It is an evolution to the Toyota Production System (TPS) and has since been widely adopted across numerous industries. The simplicity and obvious nature of Lean helped it become one of the most used manufacturing production methods in use today.
One of the benefits of Lean is that regardless of how much data and analysis you conduct in your shop, it can be implemented quite effectively since it primarily relies on a simple problem-solving technique.
The key Lean principles include:
By improving your processes with Lean, your shop will improve quality, customer satisfaction, competitiveness, productivity, and profit.
While Lean has been one of the greatest tools of recent times to help manufacturers maintain their competitive edge, there is a new method that is capturing the attention of certain segments of manufacturing that require more flexibility and responsiveness.
The IT industry, with it’s focus on moving fast and breaking stuff, created its own work methodology that focuses on flexibility, responsiveness, and adaptability. Because customer demands change quickly in today’s global market, some manufacturers that need that quickness have adopted Agile and tailored it to the manufacturing sector with Agile Manufacturing. Shops that adopt the Agile Manufacturing methodology can make faster changes to their processes, their suppliers, and their resources in a way that delivers added value to their customers at a faster pace. To summarize: Agile Manufacturing can help shops capture new opportunities as they arise.
Agile Manufacturing is more suited to discrete production, where your:
Since 2020 more and more manufacturers have looked into adopting some of the quick and nimble features of Agile Manufacturing into their production process. This has enabled these shops to have a faster reply to changing customer demand and supply chain issues.
In a way, the key principles of Lean also apply to Agile. However, Agile adds:
As mentioned, Agile Manufacturing comes with many benefits, including: better flexibility, faster time-to-market, a more innovative mindset, improved customer satisfaction, and better resource usage. This makes it a valuable approach for shops that want to thrive in a rapidly changing competitive landscape.
Choosing to switch your manufacturing production method can be a difficult and costly process. The goal of any methodology is to help you organize your firm and improve your processes, operations, efficiency, and quality while meeting your customer demands. You may be concerned about which method works best for you. Selecting to switch between Agile or Lean should be dependent on your business factors and how the strengths and weaknesses of either method affect you, such as your type of industry and customer, your market, and your organizational goals. In this case, you can have more than one thing. You can use TQM + Lean + Agile, etc. to ensure you are meeting all your needs. Combining and customizing multiple approaches in a way that works best for you is not only allowed but recommended.