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How to Implement Lean Manufacturing Principles with a Smart Factory System

Implementing Lean ManufacturingLean manufacturing is the systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste in the manufacturing process. The goal is to streamline the manufacturing and production processes by eliminating unnecessary steps while adding value to the customer. Smart factory systems analyze mountains of data from each individual machine on the factory floor. Once collected, this data is transformed into visual displays that will highlight areas of improvement.

The five core principles of lean manufacturing:

1. Define Value:

Define what value is from the customer’s perspective. What are they willing to pay for?

  • Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating any activities or processes that do not add value to the customer.
  • Smart factory systems collect more than counts and downtimes. Temperature and vibration data is tracked to ensure that products meet minimum quality standards before they are shipped to customers.
  • Mingo Smart Factory’s configurable dashboard includes a Pareto chart to track the 20% of processes that are affecting 80% of quality issues and downtime.
  • Case Study: Lyons Blow Molding: Before Mingo Smart Factory, Lyons Blow Molding had no system to backtrack and know the setting if there was a process issue.

“Part of our process includes temperature, pressures, and timers. We’re focused on the critical elements with those machines to understand whether the product is being made to the quality specifications.”

2. Map the Value Stream:

Map out the entire process of creating and delivering the product or service, from conception to disposal.

“Knowing that your inventory is accurate the whole time that you’re using the system is real dollars.”

3. Create Flow:

Organize the production process so that it is smooth and continuous, with no stopping or starting.

“Mingo helped us realize that our small micro stoppage problem was actually a bigger problem than we anticipated.”

4. Establish a Pull System:

Produce only what the customer needs, when they need it.

  • Lean manufacturing accomplishes an efficient pull system by avoiding overproduction and waste.
  • Smart factory systems help managers reduce unplanned overtime by planning the optimal path to process customer orders.
  • Mingo Smart Factory’s manufacturing analytics help manufacturers identify where their process can be streamlined to only produce the products that are making them money, and not just contributing to their inventory.
  • Case Study: Tacony Corporation: With insight into production, standardization in place, and an understanding of key metrics, Tacony was able to gain a balance in the labor to work and not to overproduce if not necessary with the help of Mingo Smart Factory.

“Before we implemented Mingo, we had a 14-week backlog in our West Chicago furniture plant, and the inefficiency of the backorders was significant.”

5. Pursue Perfection Through Continuous Improvement:

Continuously strive to improve processes and eliminate waste.

  • Lean manufacturing emphasizes the philosophy that there is always room for improvement.
  • Smart factory systems help managers know if they are having a good day or a bad day.
  • Mingo Smart Factory’s scoreboards provide real time visual reports to operators and managers to help them know if they are on pace to complete the current job.
  • Case Study: Louisiana Fish Fry: Mingo Smart Factory scoreboards are typically set up on television screens around the plant to help workers see when they were doing well (green light) and when there was room for improvement (red light).

“The obvious goal is to improve your efficiency. You want to get more throughput with the same amount of time or same amount of money.”

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Selecting the Right Smart Factory System

Selecting the right smart factory system will depend on your factory’s needs and by setting expectations for what you want for the deliverables. Production monitoring systems are designed to collect, analyze, and visualize data from various stages of the production process. By monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time, such as production output, quality metrics, and machine utilization, manufacturers can identify bottlenecks, trends, and areas for improvement.

Production Monitoring SystemImplementing a smart factory system on the factory floor like production monitoring software tackles four common issues your company may be faced with regularly:

  1. Lack of Visibility
  2. Persistent Downtime Issues
  3. Low Quality
  4. Inefficient Changeovers

Lean manufacturing is a continuous journey of improvement. By following the principles and constantly looking for ways to streamline production and eliminate waste, businesses can create a culture of efficiency and excellence.

How will a smart factory system benefit the factory floor?

The most common reasons we hear during Mingo Smart Factory discovery calls include:

  • My employees are busy, but are they being productive? I need to reduce downtime.
  • I manage three different plant locations. I need real time visibility without standing over someone’s shoulder.
  • It takes too long to collect reporting manually and the numbers are not always accurate. I need a way to automatically collect the data that matters.
  • My boss says I need to improve my Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) score in the next 6 months.
  • I need to reduce my backlog so I can get a handle on my availability.
  • I have no idea if I have the capacity to take on this $2 million order.

Lean Manufacturing is a Process of Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is the final and most important step when implementing lean manufacturing principles in your manufacturing plant. Basic production monitoring systems commonly miss this step.  One of Mingo Smart Factory customers outgrew two systems before they found Mingo.

Only your team can make the recommended changes to reduce downtime, unlock capacity and improve OEE. Weekly meetings will help operators and managers get used to the new dashboard as they transition from rows of numbers on whiteboards to an organized dashboard. Mobile alerts are ineffective if there is no opportunity for a weekly check-in to address why it happened. If manufacturers are switching from a manual input to an automatic collection system, it may boost confidence to run both systems at the same time.

  • Start simple, think big, move fast. Begin implementing lean manufacturing principles by monitoring key metrics for a specific process or department. Improve and expand the scope of reducing waste and increasing productivity as you gain confidence and experience.
  • Focus on actionable insights. Don’t just collect data; use it to identify areas for improvement and implement changes to optimize your production.
  • Get your team involved. Train your employees on how to use the monitoring system, get insights from the dashboard and encourage them to contribute data and feedback. Operators are on the front lines and may be seeing downtime reasons that you never thought to code for.

By choosing the right smart factory solution and using it effectively, you can implement lean manufacturing principles that will help you improve efficiency, reduce costs, and boost your bottom line.

Picture of Alyxandra Sherwood
Alyxandra Sherwood
Digital Marketing Manager @ Mingo Smart Factory I Adjunct Professor @ SUNY Geneseo I Boston Marathoner I Second Street Award Winner I Media Professional with 15 Years Experience