Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Championing Lean in Small Manufacturing Enterprises

In today's business environment where managers and top executive are innovating ways to minimize waste thereby driving up optimal productivity, the utilization of lean manufacturing processes can deliver solutions to reduce waste from the beginning to the end of the supply chain for companies across all industry. The Toyota Production System as discussed in week 4 reading "The Evolution of the Toyota System" is a mechanism used by the Toyota Company to foster lean production in the manufacturing process in order to eliminate waste. Being amazed at the success of the Toyota Production System, I decided to search for publications that explain how lean production can assist small business enterprises to leverage themselves in today's competitive business landscape. At the end of my search I found this article "Championing Lean in Small Manufacturing Enterprises". My preference for small manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) is premise on the belief that they serve as the fulcrum of the local economy and provide safety net for folks in the neighborhoods and communities. Some of these SMEs have strong ties to locality where they operate and see their operations as part of the existence of the neighborhood or community.

The author presented a nice write-up by providing analysis on the lean production process in large conglomerates and total productive lean in small companies and other interesting points relative to efficient production process. Also, below are few takeaways that I want to share from this article.

1. Total Lean Productive for small companies: The author asserted that just as lean production is a success in large conglomerates, total productive lean is the appropriate solution for eliminating waste in the manufacturing process of small businesses. With the total productive lean, SMEs can apply the lean process to achieve the most important goal of customer responsiveness and then link the process to the lean production in order to reduce waste.

2. Effective Customer Responsiveness: SMEs companies should focus on customer responsiveness rather than developing a fixed production time table. It is easier to attain quality in small companies than in large conglomerates that are heavily dependent on machines. The huge dependence, at times, can lead to defects in the production process which can cause overtime in man hours, backlog of products to be supplied or produced among other which results into losses.

3. Bench marking: SMEs should employ the use of bench marking in the production operations so as to augment the quality of goods and services produced and at the same time reducing waste. SMEs should visit with other firms similar in size and operations and learn lean principles that can be re-purpose to their production process. This procedure will to a greater extend reduce waste, bring about continuous improvement and drive up competitive advantage.

That being said, SMEs can leverage these lean processes to attain production that are void of waste and do not need additional resources in the production process but operate with current resources on hand. This will drive up efficient and effective production operations. Also, SMEs can employ the 5S procedure (sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain) which will help in the production process.

Therefore, the lean production system can be champion in SMEs so as to achieve tremendous edge in waste reduction, lower costs, improved improved quality, shorter throughput, high standards and flexibility which in turn which increase profitability and competitive advantage.


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