Examples of Lean Manufacturing in Practice

The lean certification process has been in place for several years. Lean certification is similar to six sigma certification in that employees are trained through step-by-step learning procedures where one step must be completed before moving on to the next. Lean training has been implemented in many manufacturing situations and there are many measurable success stories. In lean training, the company looks for ways to create efficiencies, and goes through a process before implementing changes. In this manner, there is an opportunity to achieve the desire goal with cost savings as one of the main criteria.

One example of successfully implementing the lean training is with a company which makes wood veneers. The company wanted to expand to meet high demand, and they were ready to make a large capital purchase of huge machinery on their production lines. Before proceeding, they hired a lean certified consulting group to investigate their need. The lean process involved analyzing the veneer production process. It also took into account the high demand, and the cost of lost opportunity. The result was that the lean certified group recommended smaller, mobile manufacturing units to be installed, as opposed to larger equipment. The difference resulted in an increased ability to adjust to market demand, by moving equipment around to locations where demand was the highest. Also, the capital outlay was less, initially, than the amount would have been for the larger equipment. Once the smaller-sized equipment was purchased and put into manufacturing use, the company was better able to evaluate the need for more units. There was less wasted money, less downtime, and more flexibility as a result of the lean training put into place.

Another example of using lean training is in a large manufacturer of airplanes. The company wanted to expand production of one of the models of their airplanes, at a very high cost to the company. Before proceeding they also hired a group with lean certification. The group was trained in using information from all aspects of the business. Data was gathered from the business units of the company, as well as from procurement, and other integral business units. They even visited parts of the company that were making different models of airplanes that were not expanding. This way, they had a comprehensive view of the way the company engaged in manufacturing.

The result was that the company was able to expand one part of their business by integrating shipping with other non-expanding parts of their business. Efficiencies were created as a result of one department’s expansion that benefitted the company, as a whole, and therefore saved the company money instead of costing them money.