Lean manufacturing concept deals with the reduction of waste at all costs in the production process. It seeks to improve efficiency, effectiveness and profitability through removing/eliminating all aspects that are valueless in the customers’ perspective.
The wastes that are eliminated through serious adoption of the lean culture include; overproduction, time wastage by allowing continuous flow, unnecessary movements of workers and raw materials, over processing, inventory wastes and scraps plus the unused human potential that is available.
There is also a continuous flow of operations right from the time the shift starts from the CQS-CUST indicated by the green light. it shows the commencement of operations and makes the workers report in their workstations at the required time and reduce losses through time wastage. Different equipment is also used for their particular tasks and is placed near the points of use in order to reduce time wastage, injuries and strain to workers.
The placement of the pitch marks which are an indicator of the progress in relation to the stipulated time frame is also a lean practice. The kits containing the parts, chemicals, tools and standards of operation for the specific tasks helps to make the Just-In-Time tool of lean. They are delivered just in time to the respective homes making the production process smooth. It also ensures that the inventory levels are reduced as well as improving the cash flow and space reduction in the production process.
The Gemba philosophy is also applied to a large extent as most of the workers are monitoring the production at the manufacturing area and not from their offices and this gives them a better understanding of the processes. Realization of the company objectives is driven by the teamwork portrayed
Bottleneck analysis is also performed after the team members play their role of informing the team leaders of problems encountered in the production process. It is made possible by the Andon system which the team leader is mandated to give the visual alerts when there is any assistance needed. On stopping, the time is indicated in the line stop metrics that enable the calculation of downtimes and the resolutions taken.
Boeing is a visual factory as indicated by the displays controls and visual indicators throughout the plant that improves and makes the state and condition of the production process accessible and clear to all the workers. In case of emergencies, the rapid response teams also come in handy to try and reduce time wastage. Analysis of the root causes are done, and the appropriate measures taken to ensure the occurrence is eliminated. The feeder lines also help in achieving the continuous flow as jobs that cannot be performed in the main line are effectively made.
Schedules are also monitored by the pacer system and this helps in the reduction of lead times leading to timely achievement of the goals and objectives of production. The replenishment of kits at the end of the first shift is a lean practice also that ensures the production process in the second shift starts immediately without wastage of time on replenishment again. The PCA is also applied by the mechanics at Boeing plant as they develop the systems by planning, doing run experiments, checking and evaluating the results and ultimately acting to improve the systems. The equal number of employees in both shifts ensures that the output required per given period of time is reached. The stepwise operations in the end bring out the required output (plane) in the required specifications and customer appealing.
Boeing manufacturing illustrates the various elements of lean culture which leads to its continued success in the industry. It is a good real example which can apply to other production companies; the element of waste will be eliminated or reduced to a high extent.