Does the philosophy of Lean Manufacturing have actionable meaning? Simply put, Lean Manufacturing is a management philosophy that urges you toward eliminating waste and improving productivity. It is a legitimate methodology for manufacturers and business owners to adopt, which will help them optimize production, give value to customers, and thus transform into market leaders. But, what is a manufacturer really expected to do to join the burgeoning crowd in Lean Thinking?
Even Henry Ford, regarded as the Father of Lean Manufacturing, inadvertently created waste in his ambitious attempts at minimizing it. At the Highland Park manufacturing plant in the early 20th century, they tightly monitored the production line of the Model T automobile. The process ‘flow’, from raw material being sourced to the point of sales of the automobile, got planned to the T. (Pun intended!) Although high production standards got achieved and maintained, flexibility in the processes was zilch! There was no scope for variations or any modifications. Also, Ford failed to consider consumer demand and kept pushing finished automobiles into the market. What could one expect from the large pile-up of cars pending sales? He had eliminated operational inefficiencies, but the unsold inventory was another form of waste and monetary loss.
Offloading the costs incurred by wasteful production processes onto the customers is a big no-no! On the contrary, customer satisfaction is at the core of Lean Manufacturing. Not giving customers value for money will only damage your business relationships. For retaining position between tough competition, production must be flexible and adaptable to customer demands. So how can a manufacturer pull off this feat, improve production efficiency while also reducing wastage and being sensitive to consumer expectations?
There are a few ways to boost productivity five-fold with Lean Manufacturing, and it begins with just one step — embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI). Manufacturing gets Lean when AI breaks down siloed data and facilitates transparent coordination between diverse production teams. AI applications can help manufacturers streamline processes, eliminate waste, and achieve the ultimate goal — customer satisfaction.
How it gets done —
- Reducing batch cycle time: Manufacturers have to fulfill orders within tight deadlines. Any delay in fulfilling orders can cause huge losses for manufacturers, so being ahead of the game is critical. Bodhee® Golden Production Run AI app helps you identify quality parameters impacting batch performance through real-time visibility of patterns created by the Golden Digital Thread. Experience quality improvement by 10-12% and reduction of batch cycle time by 1-2 %.
- Improving production control: Most of the issues related to production get traced to unexpected delays or unforeseen stoppage in work, which stalls the finishing of production. Our Bodhee® Predictive Maintenance AI app can track issues with high accuracy and provide real-time updates. Thus, it considerably reduces the impact on your production schedules and product quality by proactively reducing asset downtimes. Get maintenance cost reduction of a whopping 15-20%.
- Reducing pending inventory: Work-in-Progress or dead stock gets eventually translated into lowered customer satisfaction. Data harmonization and integrated analytics from connected operating and production systems can save you a lot of time and effort. Bodhee® WIP Reduction AI app accurately identifies where the WIP is getting accumulated and what is causing it. It helps reduce buffer stocks and lets you enjoy a working capital reduction of 8-10%.
- Increasing workforce productivity: Lean thinking with AI brings a radical change in company culture with improved workforce management. Bodhee® Production Performance Monitoring app helps monitor production and Key Performance Metrics such as Overall Labor Effectiveness (OLE) with just one click. It gives manufacturers a competitive edge by reducing errors and requirements for reworking by 15%. It optimizes warehouse operations and improves product delivery time by 8-10%.
- Increasing capacity utilization: It is essential to have dynamic planning in response to the events on the factory shop floors or in the supply chain or user feedback that keeps the businesses agile. Bodhee® Integrated Micro Planning app facilitates synchronized and Live micro-planning of the entire production process. Manufacturers can work out every tiny detail and customize it, thus ensuring shorter lead times, quality improvement, tailored solutions, and many other desired production goals.
Studies suggest that 80% of manufacturers who adopted AI over the past two years realized a value increase between a moderate 23% and a significant 57%. Many of them who had latent IT and OT data assets harvested data from IoT sensors, which AI then leveraged to optimize processes and business results (1).
As the manufacturing industry evolves with the Industrial revolution 4.0, and realizes the multiple potential benefits and value addition in Lean manufacturing with AI, it will soon become a norm or even mandatory for assured productivity.