What is Lean Manufacturing
The concept of lean manufacturing, or lean as it is sometimes called, has been around for decades and focuses on streamlining production to improve value and productivity while minimizing waste. From a lean perspective, waste is considered anything that does not add value. During the lean process, companies are encouraged to map-out the flow of product through the entire supply chain in an effort to identify efficiency opportunities and ensure parts flow smoothly through each phase.
There are many options to choose from when it comes to machine shops. When looking for a CNC machining partner, it is important that OEMs look for a shop that delivers high-quality parts on schedule and offers value. One of the most common ways a machine shop, like ABS, is able to incorporate the efficiencies necessary to deliver high-quality and value is through the application of lean manufacturing principles.
What are the Key Strategies of Lean Manufacturing?
Below is a summary of the 5 key principles of lean manufacturing. When implemented effectively, lean manufacturing results in significant efficiencies and productivity gains that lower production costs – providing the competitive edge companies are seeking. These concepts can be successfully applied to any sector including CNC machining and heavy fabrications.
- Value – this principle is based on how the customer defines “value”. It is nearly impossible to streamline a manufacturing process if the value points are not clearly understood.
- Value Stream – this step involves mapping out the processes that contribute to the value stream from beginning to end. It often starts with raw material acquisition and ends when the final product is delivered to the customer. This is a crucial aspect of lean manufacturing as the purpose is to identify potential waste areas and then work to reduce or eliminate the waste.
- Flow – once the waste is removed, the manufacturing operations should run more smoothly and efficiently. Teams should revisit the value stream to ensure all waste has been removed where possible.
- Pull – with the process running more smoothly, products can be manufactured and delivered “just in time”, reducing inventory requirements and costs. This also results in shorter time to market, further driving competitiveness.
- Perfection – the final principle is about continuous improvement as lean manufacturing is intended to be an on-going assessment to avoid waste and inefficiencies from creeping back into the process. Companies with a lean c
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There are several types of waste that are often identified when a lean approach is used in CNC machine shops, and below are some of the most common.
- Waiting: this applies to personnel or machinery. When time is wasted by waiting on machines to be available or materials to arrive, the efficiency of the machine shop suffers.
- Unoptimized Inventory: too much or too little inventory both lead to inefficiencies.
- Inefficient Logistics: logistics include the workflow of the part within the shop but also extends beyond the machine shop to include the acquisition of raw materials as well as the transportation of the final part to the customer.
- Over-processing or Over-Engineering: these are a waste of time, equipment and resources. The objective of CNC machining is to meet the tolerances and specifications per the agreed upon design.
- Unnecessary Motion: this can be wasted motion of personnel or equipment. Reducing unnecessary motion is key to improving the entire manufacturing supply chain. Machine shops that are organized and laid out well excel in this area.
- Defects or Other Quality Issues: scrapped pieces and rework of off-spec parts can be a huge area of waste for machine shops if quality control is not properly built into the manufacturing process.
How is Lean Manufacturing Applied to CNC Machining and Fabrication?
Let us now discuss how lean principles can be applied to CNC machining and heavy fabrication projects. When lean principles are applied, sources of waste are reduced, or even eliminated, improving operations efficiency and product quality - adding significant value for customers. With shorter production times, machine shops are more nimble and able to respond to customer needs and market conditions. Additionally, lean strategies can also be applied to the entire supply chain, leading to quicker speed to market and a significant competitive edge. Below are some of the ways lean principles are applied to CNC machining and fabrication projects.
- Establish a Lean Shop Culture: each machine shop has its own culture that permeates into every aspect of the shop including the manufacturing process. It is important that all levels of the organization participate in the lean culture from management to the shop floor. It is important to explain to personnel why a lean approach and efficient manufacturing is critical to business success. Personnel need to know that if they identify an improvement opportunity their ideas will be heard and considered. At ABS, the main focus of our lean manufacturing techniques is maximizing customer value while minimizing waste - and we empower every employee to make a difference.
- Organize the Shop Floor for Success: the physical layout of a machine shop and the workflow path a part takes directly impact productivity, namely the level of unnecessary motion. Machine shops that want to apply lean manufacturing principles should follow raw materials throughout the manufacturing process to better understand areas for improvement. For example, are raw materials near the CNC machines, and is finishing equipment located near the shipping and transport area of the shop. Simple measures like the location of equipment as well as the placement and order of CNC machining tools can have a huge impact on manufacturing efficiency.
- Tool Selection and Utilization: tooling efficiency is essential as it can make or break the quality of parts produced by CNC machining. Selecting the right tools is key to achieving a high-quality cut, effectively minimizing the potential for defects. It is also important that operators carefully plan their operating conditions such as feed rate and speed to achieve the most value from a given CNC machine.
- Optimized Maintenance Plan: machine shops are becoming increasingly aware of the downtimes and costs resulting from unexpected equipment failures, and are implementing a combination of preventative and predictive maintenance plans to secure a competitive edge. Maintenance programs that rely solely on manual data entry and tracking are slow and are often too “reactive” in nature – it is key to integrate smart, condition-based monitoring systems into existing manufacturing processes. These smart programs provide manufacturers with scheduled maintenance events based on known wear, use or observed conditions as well as dashboard monitoring and trends. The bottom line is to be proactive rather than reactive to achieve lean manufacturing.
Established in 1971, ABS Machining has grown to become the recognized global leader in large CNC machining, fabrication, and assembly for OEMs. The key to our success has been exceptional people, unparalleled facilities, and an unwavering commitment to quality. Our people are experts in their given field. Their expertise is matched only by their passion for serving our clients. We continue to invest in our people with education programs, cross training and in our internal accredited apprenticeship center.
Our facilities are state-of-the-art and we are equipped to serve our client’s requirements in:
Our massive fleet of machines and automated welding systems has delivered solutions to the most technically challenging projects. Our commitment to maintaining unparalleled facilities is evidenced by our renowned continuous capital reinvestment initiatives. Our commitment to quality goes well beyond our ISO 9001:2015 Registration. From the inception of all programs, ABS quality professionals work closely with each customer to ensure all their unique requirements are met or exceeded. It is this commitment that has positioned ABS as a strategic supplier to leading OEMs worldwide.
Contact us today to see how we can help with your machining project, or give us a call at 1-844-227-6224.
CNC MACHINING · FABRICATION · ASSEMBLY
Precision Machining ↓
ABS offers a unique combination of medium to high volume production machining and welding services.
80 Large Advanced CNC Machine Tools
ABS is one of the largest and most advanced manufacturing companies in North America.
6 Plants with lifting capacity up to 160 Tons
The ABS 5-Axis machining department has been built from the ground up with our customers’ needs in mind.
Centrifugal and Turbo Machined Impellers
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Heavy Fabrication Mig, Tig, Flux Core, Sub Arc
Mig, Tig, Flux Core, Sub Arc
Inconel 625 Hotwire Tig
Inconel 625 Hotwire Tig
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Quality Assurance & Control