Within all manufacturing environments, wasteful activities are abounding in all areas, including communications. Although communications is not usually considered an area that causes waste, excellence in communications should be of serious concern.

Why? Because clunky methods of communicating, such as PA systems, two-way radios, printed reports, lengthy meetings can consume valuable resources, such as time and productivity. Yes, talk is not cheap in these instances.

Lean strategy for manufacturing practices recognize this and address methods of delivering pertinent information when and where it’s needed in a reliable and efficient manner. This can have staggering effects and is why lean strategy is worthy of serious consideration by manufacturing directors, quality assurance directors, production managers, inventory managers and maintenance managers.

Lean Strategy and the Seven Deadly Wastes
Lean strategy for manufacturing, according to Dr. Shigeo Shingo and Taiichi Ohno, founders of Lean Manufacturing, is a process of that focuses on eliminating and removing the Seven Deadly Wastes of manufacturing. These include:

  • Overproduction: making something before it is actually needed.
  • Waiting: Time when work-in-process is waiting for the next in production.
  • Transport: Unnecessary movement of raw materials or finished goods.
  • Motion: Unnecessary movement of people.
  • Over Processing: More processing than is needed to produce product.
  • Inventory: Product quantities go beyond supporting the need.
  • Defects: Production that is scrap.

How does manufacturing technology, such as Manufacturing Metric Displays, address the Seven Deadly Wastes in Lean Manufacturing? By streamlining manufacturing communications with digital displays that provide visual communications of data and metrics in real-time on factory and production floors and throughout manufacturing facilities.

Eliminate Overproduction
Manufacturing digital signage displays allow employees to pace production so the rate of manufacturing coincides with customer demands. Too much product means monetary loss. With dynamic visual data on production floors linked to manager’s offices, managers can easily identify trends and intervene to keep product flow on track, thus preventing overproduction and loss of product. Managers can then use a pull system to control how much product is manufactured or reduce batches of product as needed.

Eliminate Waiting
Are production goals being met? Orders being filled on time? What lines are down and how long have they been down? It can be quite a surprise to look at the time from order to shipment and see how much of that time has truly been spent on value-added manufacturing. With Manufacturing Metric Displays, this information is easily displayed, evaluated and work orders issued, alerts broadcast, and achievements of goals recognized.

Such information also allows managers to streamline work orders. Work orders are traditionally issued through clunky communication methods; such as two-radios, typing, printing, delivering work orders, or verbally relaying orders. With Manufacturing Metric Displays, work orders can be shown in real-time. Since they are integrated to pull from existing databases, Manufacturing Metric Displays can reflect up-to-the-minute changes, such as work orders assigned and work orders finished. This helps eliminate redundancy and waiting time involved in collected data and creating reports, which then need to be dispersed by management. The effect is a reduction of time spent in meetings to discuss past deficiencies or occurring trends since these are readily available and seen by all on the displays at any given time.

Eliminate Transporting Deficiencies
Using manufacturing digital signage displays in the warehousing and logistics departments allows for greater flexibility in inventory control and transporting of product. It eliminates changes in product flow and assures work-in-process is not placed in inventory while automating the sequential flow of finished goods.

Too much product means monetary loss. Storing and moving product to keep items from expiring can become a burden. But manufacturing digital signage displays allow real-time communications with inventory and logistics personnel and allows managers to identify trends and intervene to keep product flow on track, thus preventing overproduction and loss of product.

Eliminate Motion
Since all employees are informed with a continual display of current data and trends on the production floor through manufacturing digital signage, there is less non-value added motion by employees throughout plants. Work can be logically organized so as to reduce motion and create more productivity.

Eliminate Over Processing
Often, a more difficult waste to detect and eliminate, over processing is simply where more processing than is needed is put into a product. Having current trends and metrics available at all times throughout a plant keeps managers and employees informed of trends that are leading to over processing, assist in identifying these trends and allow them to be reduced or eliminated in a timely fashion.

Eliminate Inventory Discrepancies
Lack of or too much inventory can be devastating for manufacturers. The sooner employees are aware of a discrepancy; the sooner the problem can be addressed. With real-time data displays, production goals are broadcast, upcoming production schedules changed and information is communicated from a central location and immediately visible to employees. Once production levels are reached, lines can compensate to avoid unnecessary production, thus maintaining appropriate inventory levels.

Eliminate Defects
Scrap product or product that requires reworking means monetary loss for manufacturing companies. But with easy access to inventory, production and maintenance schedules, managers can adjust raw materials as needed, reduce or entirely eliminate steps in production, or enforce overproduction countermeasures.

Keeping a close eye on manufacturing processes and the resulting products and inventory, allows for improved design of processes so that defects can be more easily identified or immediately corrected. Then work instructions or work orders can immediately be issued to reverse any adverse production.

The true value of lean strategy in manufacturing is seen when all operations or departments are linked through reliable, up-to-date information that is streamlined through integrated, automated manufacturing databases. With manufacturing automation technology such as Manufacturing Metric Displays, relative information shared throughout the manufacturing facility or facilities from a central point can be shared with the entire plant to various departments. This allows operation, production, maintenance, quality control and logistics to function seamlessly and to make constant improvements that eliminate the Seven Deadly Wastes in Lean Manufacturing.

Judy L. Hoffman is an independent writer and PR Specialist at Noventri (www.noventri.com), a U.S.-based digital metrics board and digital signage technology company that excels in automation for the manufacturing industry.