One of the key elements in Specialty Ring Product’s continuous improvement efforts has been the adoption of lean manufacturing principles to improve productivity and efficiency as we design products such as rolled rings.
What is lean manufacturing? It’s a practice created in the Japanese auto industry – by Toyota, more specifically – to eliminate waste and inefficiency.
Going lean was so successful that it was embraced by manufacturers around the world. For an American company, being lean is critical when competing against countries where it costs less to do business.
The five key lean manufacturing principles are:
- Value – Meet the customer’s needs
- Value Stream – Map every step in the process to produce a product or service and identify and eliminate those steps that are wasteful (do not add value)
- Flow – Once the wasteful steps of the process have been eliminated, verify that the remaining steps function seamlessly in providing the product or service
- Pull – With the improved efficiencies delivery lead times for the product or service can be improved dramatically, allowing for “just in time” delivery.
- Perfection – Lean manufacturing is an iterative process that needs to be an integral part of the corporate culture. Through constant vigilance of every employee, the organization strives to continually improve its processes and thereby the value it provides to its customers.
In adopting lean manufacturing principles as part of our continual improvement efforts, SRP has addressed opportunities for process improvements on the shop floor as well as in the front office.
On the production floor
Using lean manufacturing techniques, Specialty Ring Products (SRP) has been able to improve the efficiency of specific production areas such as our tooling department.
After developing a detailed flow chart of how tooling is designed, manufactured, utilized and stored, employees charged with those steps identify areas for improvement. The key takeaways from the process identified ways to improve overall efficiency by positioning work cells in closer proximity to associated cells, reducing job turnover time, and reducing backlog by having just-in-time tool availability.
In the front office
Evaluation of how quotes and orders flow through the office has enabled us to respond more rapidly to customer requests while freeing up employee time to address other areas such as monitoring production, keeping customers informed and pursuing new opportunities to grow the business.
In addition, a better understanding of how processes progress through the office provided the justification for physically changing our workspace to an open office environment to better facilitate communication and workflow.
Overall, the principles of lean manufacturing have provided SRP with an even more structured approach to identify and implement best practices as part of our on-going continuous improvement efforts.
Founded in 1890, Specialty Ring Products has remained a forging industry leader. We use our processes – and lean manufacturing principles – to deliver durable, dependable rolled rings, forged discs and other products. Contact us today to learn more.