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Lean Manufacturing

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The pressure on manufacturing organizations has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. This has been driven by globalization in the aftermath of the Cold War, the liberalization of markets, and the emergence and growth of economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. Organizations that continue to manufacture in high-cost countries must eliminate any “fat” from their manufacturing if they are to remain competitive.

Lean manufacturing is now a widely adopted philosophy for focusing on customer value-adding activities through eliminating waste and striving towards continuous improvement. An ARC Group’s strategy report authored by Simon Bragg (2004) suggests that today 36 percent of U.S. manufacturers and 70 percent of U.K. manufacturers “are using lean as their primary improvement methodology.” There is nothing radically new in lean manufacturing. It has evolved over the last 50 years from its roots in the Toyota Production System and today embodies a variety of concepts and techniques.

In today’s complex, dynamic and global manufacturing supply chains, software solutions play an increasingly important role in supporting lean manufacturing. Lawson
provides business software solutions in what we call the “make, move and maintain”(M3) market. Within “make,” Lawson supports three key manufacturing philosophies:
lean manufacturing; world-class MRPII manufacturing and advanced manufacturing. Lawson has a wide range of solutions and components available to support lean manufacturing, and has been developing and delivering lean manufacturing solutions for over 15 years. Lawson lean manufacturing solutions support the five main elements of lean thinking and enable organizations to quickly achieve 20 to 30 percent of the benefits of a lean manufacturing approach. The rest of the benefits will come over time through focusing on the fifth element—the search for perfection through continuous improvement.

In addition to the customary lean manufacturing software components, Lawson offers a Theory of Constraints (TOC)-based production planning solution that conforms to the TOC specifications laid down by Goldratt (1986) and provides a unique competitive advantage. While lean concepts and tools are best suited to certain environments, a “lean”
philosophy can be applied in almost any manufacturing environment.

Just-in-Time kanban-based systems are best suited to manufacturing assembly operations. Theory of Constraints is a lean approach that is appropriate for manufacturing environments with volatile demand and a changing order mix. A simple orderless production and material backflushing approach is often appropriate for high volumes, demand volatility and short lead-time environments such as food manufacturing.

Material requirements planning (MRP) can coexist with pull-based lean concepts to achieve lean manufacturing in environments where there is a wide variety of products, variable or infrequent demand for products, and long purchasing and/or throughput lead times such as in the fashion, service spare parts and asset-intensive industries. The strength of pull-based Just-in-Time techniques is in control and execution, while MRP’s strength is in planning.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 12:10

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