Applying Lean Methods to Automotive Manufacturing

by James Rawstron on February 21, 2017 From News And Comment
Lean-Manufacturing-for-the-Automotive-Industry

Lean manufacturing is a performance-based model focused on continually improving the manufacturing process by identifying and eliminating waste. The concept is based on the idea that by ridding organizations of any activities that are unnecessary or don’t explicitly add value to the company or the consumer, automotive manufacturers can increase their competitive advantage, lower operational costs and improve productivity across the board.

Although lean manufacturing processes can be tailored to fit the company’s unique needs, in general they are built around the following five principles:

  1. Determining the precise value a company delivers to its customers.
  2. Drafting a document that outlines each step of the manufacturing process.
  3. Understanding the flow of the current manufacturing process.
  4. Exclusively producing items that customers request.
  5. Constantly work towards creating an ideal manufacturing process by eliminating waste and adding value at every opportunity.
When it comes to the automotive industry, there are countless advantages that eliminating waste through a lean manufacturing process offers an organization. They include:
  1. Increased efficiencies.
    By cutting out waste and unnecessary steps in the production line, machines, processes and employees can function as productively as possible – which saves resources and allows automotive manufacturers to focus on activities that add value and improve their competitive advantage.
  2. Improved quality.
    In a lean environment, quality is constantly improving as waste and additional costs are cut out of the equation. There are far fewer defects and process breakdowns present in a seamless production, and on the rare occasion that they do occur, they are very easily handled. And of course, as quality improves, so does consumer satisfaction.
  3. Greater profitability.
    There are also financial benefits to adopting the principals of lean manufacturing. Eliminating waste saves money on surplus inventory, product storage, unnecessary employees, plus the fallout from defective components and overproduction. By saving money and resources in these key areas, automotive manufacturers can dramatically increase their profitability and grow their businesses.

James Rawstron

James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.