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In the nowadays world, manufactures have to pay a lot of attention to the quality improvement and time in order to provide steady and increasing profits. Some companies have managed to find the most efficient way in order to take out the flaws that can lead to scrap and rework, and to create the idea of continuous and steady improvement, this is achieved by making the combination of Sigma and kaizen lean.
The one-two punch becomes a remarkable tool for solving the problems that expand the difference between the bottom line and revenues. The application of two ideas simultaneously brings better results. Taking into account kaizen or continual improvement breakthrough and the Toyota Introduction System methodology, lean concentrates on establishing one piece flow with the just-in-time management of materials and inventory (Smith 37). Applying five day continual improvement events, lead time is improved and inventory on the spot is reduced by the cross functional groups.
Smith (38) mentions that though Six Sigma has been popularized by General Electric and Motorola, there is a downside. Having created a Master Black Belts cadre, who may spend more than a half of a year on one project, the approach scarifies the bias for the action necessary in the lean projects (Smith 39).
In her article, Smith (2003) analyzed the cases of two companies, Landscape Structures Inc., which is situated in Delano, and Heatcraft, a factory in Georgia.
Landscape Structures Inc. worked on lean technique for more than a year. During the following period, lead time was cut by 92%, productivity was improved by 20%, and scrap was dropped from 0.85 to 0.2%. As a result, the company needed a style approach of Six Sigma. Pinholes in the PVC coated pipes caused a plenty of scrap. This problem was caused by angle, milk thickness, or temperature. The company asked TBM Consulting Group to help, applying a method known as LeanSigma, which is a combination of Six Sigma, kaizen, and lean. The representatives of both Landscape Structures and consulting firm studied all necessary data and processes. As a result, some mistakes were found that should be corrected by all means. The combination of lean techniques and Six Sigma allowed discovering not only obvious problems but also some hidden ones (Smith 38-39).
As to Heatcraft, it used lean for a year to improve its production; though, the refrigeration equipment had some defects. Heatcraft decided to recheck all its products in order to remove all problems as well as defects. Thus, this decision implied more rework. After checking every product and process accordingly, the company began its first continual improvement. The company simply broke down the transformation steps, observing every time the product changes state. The kaizen team obtained good results. The improvements were concluded to be achieved when only the best of Six Sigma and lean were combined (Smith 39-40).
In cases discussed by Smith (2003), Chircop (2009) tried to make a research concerning the Calibration Laboratory, US Naval Ship Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) in Yokosuka. This center was created by the USA and Japan just after the end of the World War II in order to ensure stability and peace between two countries and within the whole region. In this center, experts have to test equipment of ships as well. It is obvious that the calibration should be carried out very quickly as it is capable of holding the whole process. In such a case, even a minute delay can lead to inevitable consequences and results. When guaranteeing accurate work, the team of SRF-JRMC uses trustworthy quality techniques and tools so as to increase productivity and reduce turnaround time. The execution phase always begins with the Calibration laboratory where all equipment is tested by the experts. The laboratory comprises three work stations: electrical work and electronics, gauges, and dimensional work.
Chircop (2009) notes the center has been following principles of lean manufacturing in every segment since 1991. But when the U.S.S. George Washington, an American super-carrier, was to come, a special team was tasked to find the best ways in order to increase the efficiency of the laboratory. The key goal of the team, called Team Rainbow Seven, was to lead a series of rapid improvement events (RIE) or kaizen. A regular lean manufacturing feature is kaizen efforts. They are represented to make work process simpler and assist employees at clearing out wasteful steps. While developing the strategy, the team used such quality tools: value stream mapping in order to view clearly all existing processes; work-in-process data so as to determine current work load; and work load forecast in order to give projections concerning future workload. It turned out that the main problem of the laboratory was calibration lead time, which took about 50 days or even more (Chircop 2009). In order to find key causes, various tools and methods were applied. Their application helped in finding out areas that did need improvements. The next steps used by the team were to identify key causes and to find the best solutions to them.
As a result, Team Rainbow Seven managed to cope with all challenges and suggested an implementation plan. This plan brought desirable results for the laboratory and the center.
It becomes obvious that in order to have steady improvements and increasing profits, the nowadays companies and firms should use the combination of various methods and techniques. Judging from the above given case studies, the best solutions were introduced by Team Rainbow Seven. The Calibration Laboratory did not look for the help in the consulting companies as its own best experts managed to find the best way out of the problem.
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