Lean Manufacturing is a proven method for efficient production and waste prevention. While most manufacturing companies have embraced the principle, it is not always easy to implement Lean in practice. Three factors that help in successfully implementing Lean are standard operating procedures, clear work instructions, and a digital operator platform.
Lean Manufacturing aims to reduce waste in materials, work, and money. This means that business processes should be uninterrupted, and mistakes should be minimized. Many specific Lean tools are available to work on this, such as 5S. In addition, Lean needs to be integrated into daily operations. Three keys are necessary for this.
Key 1: Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, are instructions for operators that describe how a task can be optimally executed. They are usually based on the experience of multiple employees, ensuring that the optimal method is used. They always concern recurring tasks, such as changeovers, minor repairs, or cleaning activities. SOPs are described step-by-step, making them understandable to everyone. They often also serve as a reference for new employees.
In many companies, SOPs are still recorded on paper, which means they are rarely consulted and updating them is time-consuming. Therefore, key 2 is important.
Key 2: Digital Work Instructions
To benefit from SOPs, it is advisable to make them available as digital work instructions. This has several advantages:
- A digital work instruction can include photos and videos, making it clear at a glance what the operator needs to do. Moreover, these visual work instructions are easy to understand for people who do not speak fluent Dutch or English.
- A digital work instruction can be accessed online, making it available to everyone, everywhere. The digital work instructions of EZ-GO are viewed by the operator on the tablet next to the machine.
- These visual work instructions are easy to modify centrally when the optimal method changes. Therefore, digital work instructions are always up-to-date.
Lean Manufacturing has a much greater chance of success when the operator instructions are easy to find, easy to understand, and always up-to-date.
Key 3: Operator Platform
The third key to Lean Manufacturing is bringing together the previous elements on a digital operator platform. This platform contains work instructions and other elements that support Lean.
Digital checklists provide proactive instructions to the operator about tasks and controls that must be performed at various times. During a changeover, for example, the operator can see exactly which steps he or she needs to follow and checks them off as they are completed. Nothing is forgotten.
If the operator encounters a problem or improvement opportunity in the process, it is easy to report it via the operator platform. On the EZ-GO platform, he or she creates an action, possibly with a photo or video, and assigns it to the right person. This leads to a quick solution. Other employees can also see the progress of this action, such as team leaders, quality employees, and technical service.
Continuous improvement is an important aspect of Lean. The digital operator platform provides support for this as well. It contains statistics about, for example, tasks that are not or not fully completed, and actions that have been created. This helps to determine where structural improvements are possible quickly. This continuous improvement constantly improves processes, making them even more efficient.
Conclusion: Lean benefits from a digital approach
The concept of Lean Manufacturing emerged in the 1980s, when digitalization possibilities were still limited. Today, tools such as the EZ-GO platform make it possible to take Lean Manufacturing to the next level. By using digital work instructions and an operator platform, companies can successfully implement Lean Manufacturing and make their processes even more efficient.