Lean Manufacturing is an operational strategy oriented toward achieving the shortest posible cycle time by eliminating waste. Its key thrust is to increase the value-added work by eliminating waste and reducing incidental work. The technique often decreases the time between a customer order and shipment, and it is designed to radically improve profitability, customer satisfaction, throughput time, and employee morale.
The benefits generally are lower costs, higher quality, and shorter lead times.
The characteristics of lean processes are:
- Single-piece production
- Repetitive order characteristics
- Just-In-Time materials/pull scheduling
- Short cycle times
- Quick changeover
- Continuous flow work cells
- Efficiently located machines, equipment, tools, and people
- Compressed space
- Multi-skilled employees
- Flexible workforce
- Empowered employees
- High first-pass yields with major reductions in defects
In 2009, Microtech embarked on a programme to introduce Lean Manufacturing into all areas of its operations.
After extensive training for all company personnel in the principles of Lean Manufacturing, a cross-functional team was formed to help with the introduction of the characteristics outlined above.
The team's objective is to work with company personnel at all levels on an ongoing basis to achieve the benefits of lower costs, higher quality, shorter lead times, and an improved manufacturing and working environment.