Enhancing Woodworking Productivity: Taking the Lean Journey
By Herman Keesee | Posted: 11/25/2012 10:25PM
"Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage. The
easiest of all wastes and the hardest to correct is the wasteof time, because wasted time does not litter the floor like wasted material.” -- Henry Ford
While many wood products businesses may not achieve the success of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, its founder left us with the blueprint on how to run an efficient and successful manufacturing company. His critical thinking on matters of efficiency, waste and profit ring true today in the application of Lean Manufacturing.
Conceptually, the underlying principle of Lean production is to always question. Can we do things better? How do we eliminate waste in both our efforts and materials? How do we maximize profit and at the same time maintain quality and deliver our product to the market with efficiency and on time? This constant analysis propels us on a journey that is at the heart of Lean thought. But what does this journey look like?
Define Your Objective
Moving forward to achieve efficiency, reduce waste and maximize profit with any woodworking business begins with developing a clear master plan for improvement. Repeating as a mantra, “We can always do better” must be the driving force behind any business’ will to succeed.
Avoiding the pitfalls of getting bogged down within significant problems which can side track the implementation of a lean approach and result in Lean efforts being exerted in vain must be avoided. Clearly the goal is to gain financially, always focusing on the product line that brings the greatest return, but what are your objectives in adopting a lean approach to production?
First, increasing though-put capacity is imperative as ultimately the test of any business system’s efficiency is measured by its inputs and outputs. Next, determining where a system of production breaks down and where bottlenecks occur during production is critical to reaching Lean objectives. In our age of automation and advanced manufacturing and computer technology it is important to determine when upgrades to the current technology are necessary. Minimizing the amount of material handling with the objective of simplifying the manufacturing process is an ongoing concern for any business. Always striving for quality improvement and enhanced safety precautions round out a series of objectives that should offer a guideline for improved performance for any existing business or startup.
Where Are You at Today?
With your objectives defined, your next step on your Lean journey is to do a bit of product analysis, specifically what products are your bestsellers and most profitable items?
click image to zoom
About the Author