Happy's Essential Skills: Lean Manufacturing


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Lean doesn’t have to exist in manufacturing alone. Lean is a fairly recent principle that can apply to all of our goods and services. For those of you not familiar with Lean, I recommend the free E-book Survival Is Not Mandatory: 10 Things Every CEO Should Know about Lean by Steve Williams, a regular columnist for I-Connect007. He thoroughly explains Lean—its history, what it is, why it is important, and how to initiate a program. Steve uses a lot of humorous stories to illustrate his points. On one, he concludes with: “The moral of the story: If Team America doesn’t start working smarter in the manufacturing sector, we will be destined to remain a service nation.”

Another excellent article on Lean was written by Kathy Nargi-Toth in the October 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine.

Introduction

Steve’s and Kathy’s explanation of Lean encompasses:

  • Lowering costs by eliminating waste of all sorts (materials, machinery, manpower, methods, measurements, and movements)
  • Delivering as soon as needed to eliminate queues, waits and delays
  • Six-Sigma quality goals—continuous improvements to zero defects

Lean Management Model

Current descriptions of Lean manufacturing all refer to Toyota Motor Company. While this is its origins and most useful example, car manufacturing is very complex and one involving assembly. I like to call this “the kinematic model” for Lean. This would apply to electronics assembly, as you can always back-up-a-step and repair or rework.

But printed circuit fabrication, like integrated circuit wafer fabrication, is a thermodynamic model, in that the manufacturing steps are irreversible; you cannot go back and un-drill a hole or un-plate the board. Like in thermodynamics entropy, the process goes only in one direction.  Thus, Lean for these processes is slightly different from that of assembly.

The Total Lean Management Model aligns all the pillars of Lean in a systematic way under one umbrella, making Lean understanding, learning and execution a smooth methodology.

 

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.

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