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Lean Production Classic Failure

Lean Production Failure

We were working with a company that was very interested in implementing Lean Production. They had partially started on their way by standardizing processes and feeding some employees real-time information. They had about five major products and then some supporting, less complicated products. What they didn’t understand is that Lean Production works on one assembly line.

Four out of five of this companies products had a fair amount of commonality. They were all roughly the same.  Commonality could have existed in:

  • size,
  • bottom chassis,
  • power supply,
  • computing board,
  • memory storage, and
  • I/O

The company did not take advantage of product similarities and designed each product independently. You might think this isn’t so bad because maybe they could, for instance,  save a little on the power supply for the product if it did not need as much power.  However, maybe they could’ve also saved money by purchasing more of the same power supply used on another product.

One of Toyota’s American plants assembly line will start the car’s manufacturer with one configuration and then almost all the cars configurations are changed before they roll off the line. That implies that customer orders come in while the product is actually in manufacture. This is the ultimate in what I call Flexible Manufacturing.

At Least Start

Toyota makes one product with multiple variations. They have created Lean Production for this situation. Lean Production has certain advantages but beware, it may not be beneficial for all production environments.

We know that Mass Production creates lots of oversupply. We also know that Lean Production represents a business system and that means a larger commitment to manufacturing. Manufacturers should consider evaluating Lean Production for their production environment, and if Lean Production is not the right solution, then determine which aspects of Lean Production to implement.

By understanding your manufacturing environment and Lean Production it may be possible to work your way into a Lean Production environment.  Time creates change and if you focus your change to a goal of Lean Production your chance of achieving Lean Production increases. Lean Production creates an environment of “Build to Order” as opposed to a Mass Production strategy of “Build to Store”.

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