Lean Manufacturing—It’s Much More Than You Think

When members of Fenestration Canada met in early June as part of its virtual spring meeting (moved to virtual due to COVID-19), they were able to attend an informative presentation on lean manufacturing—a concept that’s been around for years, but might go much deeper than you think. It could also save your company time and money.

Larry Rosborough of SSI Consulting told attendees how they could evaluate waste, and he’s not talking about “stuff going in the dumpster.” Instead he spoke of evaluating processes, including work imbalances and leveling it all out.

“It’s a change to processes,” he said. “And it’s not an end point. It’s a journey.”

Rosborough shared some staggering statistics:

  • 60% of most activities performed by a company are wasteful;
  • 35% have no value but are required; and
  • Only 5% provide value-added benefits from the customer viewpoint.

Many of these wasteful activities fall into the following categories:

  • Transportation;
  • Inventory;
  • Motion;
  • Waiting;
  • Over-processing;
  • Over-production;
  • Defects; and
  • Staff skills and knowledge.

Rosborough gave some specific examples to illustrate those areas—including failure to utilize available talent.

“Too many times we have people with knowledge, and we aren’t tapping into that as a resource,” he said.

Others related to inventory and defects—not doing it right the first time, and stocking unneeded items. Instead, he advises companies to let customers pull necessary product through the value stream.

Motion and waiting are other areas companies should look at. “If an operator has to continually walk from place to place because it is not laid out as efficiently as possible is a waste … Waiting is also a waste of time,” he said.

The list goes on, but ultimately Rosborough advises companies to “seek perfection, continually improve quality and eliminate waste.”

The end result helps in other areas as well, including safety.

“A more organized workplace will be a safer one,” he said, adding that this is more important than ever to manufacturing companies in today’s environment.

“Many business sectors in Atlantic Canada and the rest of North America are losing ground to globalization,” he said. “This is not a panacea and it is work … but it reduces costs and improves your competitive advantage.”

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