Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing Series #1: Laying the Foundation for a Lean Mindset

Rethinking Your Business in the Wake of COVID-19

We live in uncertain times. Like every other industry, the manufacturing sector—including its roughly 12 million workers—has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent downturn.

Manufacturers have experienced disrupted supply chains, plummeting sales, and halted production lines. Some factories are completely shut down. However your business has been affected, now is the time to take a step back. Catch your breath. Get some perspective.  

Right now, many manufacturers are seeking short-term survival strategies—some quick-fix tactics to keep the doors open. If that’s you, we get it; it’s normal. But beyond immediate survival, what companies really need is a path to long-term endurance and growth. Look at this way: this crisis may present a unique opportunity to rethink how you operate—to make deep, gut-level changes that will allow your business to not only survive today, but better adapt to whatever the future throws at you next.

With that in mind, we believe there’s value in exploring the concept of Lean Manufacturing. After all, at Amper, we’ve always embraced Lean principles: eliminating waste, increasing productivity, and leveraging intelligence to keep improving. We believe that adopting a Lean mindset can help manufacturers successfully navigate the current crisis and position their businesses for future success.  

We created this Lean Manufacturing blog series in the hopes that you’ll find it helpful. We’ll cover the history of Lean and how you can build a Lean foundation to serve as a springboard to ongoing success. In future blogs, we’ll share the tools, techniques and templates available if you choose to adopt the Lean mindset.  

A 60-Second History of Lean Manufacturing

While certain Lean principles were incorporated into production lines dating as far back as Eli Whitney and Henry Ford, the formalization of Lean Manufacturing is generally associated with Toyota Motor Corp. After World War II, Toyota was eager to rebegin production, but faced multiple obstacles and stiff competition. Toyota determined that, instead of focusing on external factors it couldn’t control, it would examine and reengineer every internal factor it could—from production to communication to its decision-making process.  

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It was wildly successful for Toyota. Why?

In short, they view Lean as a guiding principle, a core part of their culture. 

Your factory can also use these Lean principles to improve processes and take back control in these uncertain times, and adopting a Lean mindset is the first step to reaping these benefits.  

How to Put Lean Principles to Work for You 

Adopting a Lean mindset requires a cultural, philosophical shift. Unless your organization fully embraces it, you won’t reap value from its tools and techniques—and you’ll never earn the necessary employee buy-in. 

We know you may be resistant or skeptical at this point, but we encourage you to be open regardless. Why not follow us on this journey? What have you got to lose? We promise: there are valuable lessons to be learned. 

In order to lay the foundation for a Lean mindset, you must be open to these core ideas: 

  • Lean isn’t just a collection of short-term tools and techniques, it’s a fundamental business philosophy that will continue to create value after the current crisis is over. 
  • The essential principle of Lean is continuous improvement. There will always be ways to make things better, operate more efficiently, and add more value. It’s not just about specific projects; it’s about never-ending, day-to-day improvement. 
  • Lean is not about shrinking a team of 10 down to three workers. It’s about becoming so efficient that you can accomplish much more with these same 10 people. It’s about cutting out all inessential steps and activities. 
  • The Lean mindset isn’t restricted to factory floors (although it’s extremely effective there). It can be applied to all work environments and industries. 
  • Although you’re setting a Lean foundation now, you may not see cost savings right away. That will come when you start using Lean tools, such as the 5S tool, which we’ll introduce further on.  
  • The Lean journey begins with collecting data about your operation and leveraging it to make improvements. Of course, that’s where Amper fits in. Our machine monitoring system collects electrical data from manufacturing equipment, then converts it into useful metrics that identifies where and how to make improvements and be more productive. We can even help you set specific, day-to-day goals.  

Are You Open? 

We hope you’re open to embracing the Lean mindset. Once you lay a Lean foundation, you can begin implementing the tools and templates we’ll be providing later in this series. 

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning how Amper can give you the essential data you’ll need to start this journey, give us a shoutout. Be sure to ask about our 3-month risk-free offer!