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20.01.2015 Production news

Lean Production by Peter Willats

The drive for improvement has long become an integral part of the VENTS team. The company designers and engineers never rest on their laurels keeping the company’s technology well ahead of the competition. The strive for improvement also means a keen attention to the workflow which has to be regularly streamlined and perfected.

The expectations of today’s customers are growing exponentially: the acceptable price keeps falling, the demand for high-quality products is growing while manufacturers are expected to deliver much faster than before. To keep up with the times VENTS decided to make a radical step towards the future by contracting Peter Willats, an established authority in lean production.

His expertise in lean production has been previously hired by such internationally recognised brands as Bosch, Siemens, Porsche, Mercedes and many others. Peter has racked up thousands of miles helping his clients to break their current technological envelope. This is why our company decided to rely on Peter’s professional experience in carrying out a large-scale manufacturing process optimisation and implementing a brand-new concept of managing its production facility.

Lean production is a management strategy aimed at elimination of all kinds of waste within a manufacturing process. However, this is easier said than done. The biggest challenge is spreading the changes onto all the production stages which, naturally, takes a lot of time.

Therefore our partnership started with drawing up a strategic plan and defining the scope of work for each specific production stage as well as for the entire facility. Then Peter Willats held a workshop focused on the most common mistakes made by large companies while switching to lean production as well as their remedies.

Peter stressed that the main goal of lean production is eliminating all kinds of waste within a manufacturing process. Waste means everything which does not add value such as excess business equipment, surplus finished products eating up warehouse spaces, various mistakes and malfunctions as well as unreasonable work done by poorly qualified workers.

As the first step towards improvement across the entire spectrum Peter suggested focusing on flow-line production of each item. Such system would prevent accumulation of products on the assembly line, help quickly identify and eliminate any malfunctions which, in turn, would save precious time and dramatically reduce waste.

It goes without saying than lean production is by no means limited by flow-line production concept: the idea is to eliminate absolutely all kinds of waste within the assembly line and beyond. Setting up an efficient logistics system is a key element of meeting customer needs.

Although each product represents certain value, from the point of view of lean production the resources committed to the production are immobilized while the boxed goods are idly sitting on the warehouse shelves. This is exactly the reason for implementing the just-in-time (JIT) concept which calls for manufacturing of small product batches just it time and only in response to the customer’s needs.

The key aspects of the lean production concept were used to define a broad scope of work. Considering the scale the planned restructuring is definitely going to take much longer than a couple of weeks, but the final goal is very much worth it. Furthermore, the transitions account for the human factor: all the changes will take place on a phase-by-phase basis to facilitate workers’ adjustment.

The current agenda includes the following objectives:

  • Eliminate unreasonable work which generates no value;
  • Reduce buffer stocks of the finished products;
  • Implement flow-line production;
  • Reduce downtime;
  • Remedy various product defects.

To keep track of the work Peter Willats is going to conduct monthly progress meetings to assess the work done, correct the mistakes, if any, and set new objectives. All these steps are aimed at helping VENTS to streamline its production process marking a new phase in the company’s development.

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