Lean manufacturing

VRR turns into a lean manufacturing organization. 

This project started early 2010 and we are assisted by a specialized company in the process.  

In short, lean manufacturing principles imply short lead times, a high delivery reliability and quality achieved by the minimization of waste. This philosophy, when executed successfully, should be beneficial for all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers. 

We started with the implementation of 5S two years ago. This is a technique to create an efficient, structured and clean workplace. A mandatory condition was to create a transparent process which is efficient, flexible and guarantees quality. 

In the next six months or so, we will further visualize the workflow, gradually increase the use of standardized components and monitor the key performance indicators (KPI’s). 

In just the few months we are discussing lean manufacturing, quite a few changes have been made with a noticeable immediate effect.  It is great doing and we are confident that implementation and execution will turn out positively for our customers.  

Definition of Lean Manufacturing 

Lean manufacturing, which is often simply known as "lean", is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, "value" is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. 

The 5S's are: 

  1. Seiri (整理) Sorting: Go through all tools, materials, etc. in the warehouse and production area. Keep only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded.
  2. Seiton (整頓) Straighten or Set in Order: There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. The place for each item should be clearly labeled or separated. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient work flow. Workers should not have to repetitively bend to access materials. Each tool, part, supply, piece of equipment, etc. should be kept close to where it will be used (i.e. straighten the flow path). Seiton is one of the features that distinguishes 5S from "standardized cleanup".
  3. Seisō (清掃) Sweeping or Shining or Cleanliness (Systematic Cleaning): Keep the workplace clean as well as neat. At the end of each shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and ensures that everything is where it belongs. A key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work - not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.
  4. Seiketsu (清潔) Standardizing: Work practices should be consistent and standardized. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3 S's.
  5. Shitsuke (躾) Sustaining the discipline: Maintain and review standards. Once the previous 4 S's have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. When an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4 S's and make changes as appropriate.
  6. Anzen (安全), or "Safety," is sometimes added: It is reasonable to assume that a properly planned and executed 5S program will inherently improve workplace safety, but some argue that explicitly including this sixth S ensures that workplace safety is given primary consideration. 

It is important to have continuous education about maintaining standards. When there are changes that affect the 5S program such as new equipment, new products or new work rules, it is essential to make changes in the standards and to provide training. 

Basically, lean is centered around preserving value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a variation on the theme of efficiency based on optimizing flow; it is a present-day instance of the recurring theme in human history toward increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and using empirical methods to decide what matters, rather than uncritically accepting pre-existing ideas. 

Definition 5S:

5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which start with the letter S – nowadays also when translated into English. The list describes how items are stored and how the new order is maintained. The decision making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization which builds a clear understanding among employees of how work should be done. It also instills ownership of the process in each employee. 


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