Debunking 5 Common Lean Manufacturing Myths
Lean manufacturing has proven itself time and time again to be an effective tool at eliminating waste and other non-value-adding steps in manufacturing processes. This is the best way Lean helps manufacturers with their process improvement efforts. However, this doesn’t make Lean immune to misconceptions. And these misconceptions give way to persistent myths that can lead to pushback.
Here are five Lean manufacturing myths and why they aren’t true:
1. Manufacturers will start cutting back on jobs
Lean, when done properly, significantly reduces waste, which can make many think that their jobs are at risk. However, with Lean making processes efficient, it gives factory workers free time to focus on more important tasks (productivity over being busy). Lean just helps reduce or completely get rid of steps in the manufacturing process that can lead to unnecessary work.
2. Manufacturers will double the workload
One of the biggest concerns workers have is that manufacturers will demand twice the work. This means longer hours and faster results, adding more stress to their jobs. However, Lean’s job, by way of eliminating waste, can allow workers to double their output without doubling their workload.
3. Implementing Lean is a once-off event
Some people believe that once the process has been improved, Lean’s work is done. However, as many people are surprised to find out, the work is never done. For the results of process improvement to stick, Lean heavily emphasizes continuous improvement.
This means manufacturing processes must be improved on an ongoing basis to achieve incremental and breakthrough improvements. Continuous improvement should involve everyone in the organization because it gives everyone, from upper management to floor workers. That way, everyone is empowered (feeling heard and valued) to make their work processes more efficient over time.
4. There will be no inventory
People also worry that Lean manufacturing will lead to a lack of inventory when customers need it. However, Lean has tools to make sure that this doesn’t happen. One of them is called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, which allows manufacturers to accurately forecast demand, produce the right amount of inventory and deliver it when the customers need it.
With JIT, manufacturers prevent Inventory waste, which is one of the seven major wastes in Lean. Any excess inventory that is just sitting at the factory is a waste since it takes up warehouse space and the manufacturer isn’t making money from it.
5. Lean is just for manufacturers
There’s no denying that Lean is heavily used in the manufacturing industry, but that doesn’t mean that it is exclusive to it. But since process improvement is at the heart of Lean, it can be used anywhere there is a process, whether the end result is a product or service. The same goes for continuous improvement.
Lean offers manufacturers an important set of tools that they can use to eliminate waste and increase efficiency. Coupled with continuous improvement, manufacturers can make sure they gradually improve processes while making sure positive gains stick. However, myths can undermine the good work that Lean is doing, making it important to debunk them.