Eliminating waste is such a large and important task if you run a manufacturing business. There have been many solutions designed to minimize waste as much as possible, throughout the entire production process. But only lean manufacturing techniques have stood the test of time. It was designed in Japan during the 90s when the country became a car-making giant. Toyota especially was the leading cause of this style of manufacturing rising to the surface. Its aim is to continually improve processes and procedures to make them as streamlined as possible. Cutting down on transportation time, moving parts closer to where they’re used, encouraging more direct communication between lower and higher-ranked employees and much more took the manufacturing world by storm. But it this solution still relevant in 2020?
Training the workforce
Apprenticeships have skyrocketed in recent years, thus figuring out new ways to train the workforce quickly and efficiently are needed. In lean manufacturing, leaders and facilitators are needed to pass on existing techniques. Using a roller conveyor, you keep the end product closer to the production line for longer, so employees can assess where a defect might be occurring. Spiral conveyors don’t take up a lot of room and they allow multiple employees to perform quality control checks at once.
Interactive training videos are a solution that could limit the amount of hands-on time needed to train new employees. However, there’s no real-world substitute for being taught how to use equipment and manufacturing techniques effectively, like a hands-on approach. Therefore lean manufacturing is still relevant in workforce training.
A new wave of innovation
Sometimes, technology itself drives innovation. Currently, 3D printing is being trialed and used all over the world. Certain materials are yet to be made in a printable fashion, but it’s clear that if 3D printing was given the chance to be used more in prototype product testing, we could learn a lot very quickly. This is crucial for knowing the design tolerances and function of the product. Does it do the things you thought it would? Lean manufacturing makes good use of 3D printing because it can be directly tested against your products that come straight off the line.
Lean manufacturing is still relevant, but only because it has learned to adapt. This style of manufacturing is encouraging businesses to utilize new 3D printers. Training the workforce still must be done the good old-fashioned hands-on way.