Lean Manufacturing Adds Value for Customers

TruBend machine at EDCO Fabrication
This machine helps bend sheet metal to precise angles

In 2007, as EDCO emphasized becoming more efficient and shortening lead times– while still maintaining our patented Rental-Tough quality– we enlisted the help of lean manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing derives primarily from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Given the growth of Toyota from a small company in Japan to one of the world’s largest automakers, a focused attention was placed on how they attained that success.

Coined as “lean manufacturing” in 1990, the waste-cutting strategy stresses continuous improvement (“kaizen”) to manufacturing processes. “Wastes” in the manufacturing process refer to expending any resources that don’t add value to the customer.

In the lean manufacturing model that EDCO follows, wastes include:

  1. Overproduction: Making products in too great of a quantity or before it is needed, leading to an excess in inventory
  2. Waiting: Doing nothing or working slowly while waiting for a previous step in the process to be completed
  3. Transport: Transportation of products from one location to another in the manufacturing process, especially large distances
  4. Motion: Any movement during the manufacturing process that is not benefitting the customer
  5. Inventory: An excessive amount of raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods stock held in the manufacturing facility
  6. Over-Processing: Adding more value to a product that the customer actually requires or sees
  7. Defects: Products that do not meet the standard of what the customers need or the specifications defined

With the wide array of wastes, it takes an undivided effort to provide more value to the customer during the manufacturing process. Taking a look at the facility’s layout, the process from raw materials to shipping, and the product itself, wastes in the process arise in every facet.

Given the philosophy of continuous improvement that lean manufacturing stresses so heavily, decreasing waste is a process that occurs over time with a continued commitment to eliminating non-essential space, practices or procedures.

The leaned processes, condensed operations, and more efficient space ultimately help get the product to the customer more efficiently without sacrificing the quality. Lean manufacturing is not about eliminating jobs; it’s about taking the same people and empowering them to work smarter.

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