Manufacturing of garments by Future Apparel Inc. does not satisfactory conform to the standards of lean manufacturing. The status of Future Apparel Inc. lean manufacturing was conducted through manufacturing analysis. The Future Apparel Inc. manufacturing was found to have waste of motion of employees, machines and handling; wastes of overproduction due to failure to manufacture to order; wastes of waiting for a machine to complete its cycle time or for materials to arrive hence failure to adopt Just-In-Time manufacturing; processing wastes due to use of many steps that resulted into inventory wastes characterized by work in progress and defect wastes subject to pure wastes.
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The lean elements that were proposed for managing the manufacturing wastes were based on type of manufacturing waste identified. The case report proposed Future Apparel Inc. should adopt lean manufacturing and integrate ERP and PLM best practices.
Lean manufacturing is defined as implementation, functionality and sustainability of a manufacturing system that has capacity to identify sources of waste in manufacturing process and implements an adequate methodology for reducing the waste or decreasing the non-value adding activities (Ruffa, 2008). A manufacturing system is a function of waste components because the manufacturing process is not ideal.
Lean manufacturing seeks to create customer value through sustainability in the management of activities that could contribute into manufacturing waste as a derivative of deficiencies to create customer value. Lean manufacturing as an element of management differs from organizational system management because it involves time utility and inventory management. The rationale of efficient lean manufacturing is to realize continuous flow without presence of work-in-progress inventory. This contributes into a single piece flow of a product.
This essay reports on the manufacturing status of Future Apparel Inc. and presents the manufacturing problems that contribute into manufacturing waste, presents elements of lean that should be used to fix the manufacturing problems and concludes with mechanism for implementing the solutions to the manufacturing problems based on lean manufacturing principles.
Process of determining the manufacturing waste
The sources of the manufacturing problems were identified through manufacturing analysis that involved application of lean principles (Liker, 2004). The manufacturing analysis was carried out to identify areas in the manufacturing cycle where manufacturing improvement was required to increase capability for creating customer value. The manufacturing analysis began with analysis and assessment of current status of manufacturing operations and determination of manufacturing operations to create customer value.
The manufacturing operation analysis and assessment provided baseline data that was vital in determining mechanism through which manufacturing operation improvement could be achieved and benchmarked. This was followed by determination of manufacturing improvement goals and mechanism they were aligned to cost saving policy.
Manufacturing analysis and assessment involved site floor observations on manufacturing operations, efficiencies of manufacturing lines, interviews of the line managers and employees (Holweg, 2007). The process of data collection involved waste identification, manufacturing value analysis and determination of factors that affected volumetric of manufacturing throughput. The data collected was used to form manufacturing value stream mapping.
The improvement objectives post value stream mappings were aligned to determine mechanism non-value added activities contributed into manufacturing waste. Feasibility analysis on non-value added activities sought to identify and estimate costs savings that could be achieved post management of non-value added activities (Liker, 2004). The analysis was extended to include possibilities of manufacturing interruptions, manufacturing delays, man-hours and percentage of time spent on every single task in order to determine manufacturing efficiency. The manufacturing analysis outcomes provided baseline information on value added activities against non-value added activities. The outcome formed foundation for improving manufacturing and reducing costs based on management of workflow processes.
Description of the manufacturing wastes
The Future Apparel Inc. faced problems that were characterized by inability to meet manufacturing deadlines. There manufacturing problems were characterized by increased waste of motions of employees. As a result, many of the employees were under-employed based on ratio of manufacturing output and returns on investment. There were many manufacturing lines that were idle as they waited for raw materials to be delivered from other manufacturing lines.
Manufacturing inefficiencies in one manufacturing line resulted into manufacturing inefficiencies in another line. The low rate of handling of materials between manufacturing lines resulted into very low effective man-hours worked. The presence of many manufacturing lines demonstrated that the processing of the garments had many unnecessary steps. The processing steps had contributed into increase of production costs in terms of employees, managers for manufacturing lines and machines maintenance and repair expenses when many machines were idle most of the time.
The manufacturing problems that resulted into waste of motion with regard to employees and machines resulted into waiting. The long cycles of manufacturing in one dependent line affected manufacturing efficiency of the other lines. Communication barriers affected manufacturing efficiencies. The top down communication approach and high power distance created an environment where employees dependent on top management on decisions regarding manufacturing. Manufacturing delays were further brought about by delay of materials from suppliers. This showed there were no shared strategies between the company and its supply chain. Delay in supply of materials to the manufacturing unit interrupted continuity of manufacturing hence the manufacturing was characterized by interruption of continuity of manufacturing processes.
Procurement of large quantity of materials resulted into overproduction of garments. This resulted into waste of overproduction through non-moving inventory. This resulted into build up of inventory due to failure to manufacture to order or based on market demand.
In some instances, the initial manufacturing step and finishing steps could be idle when the middle manufacturing steps were very busy. For instance, the cutting of materials into the required garment design took less time compared to sewing steps or joinery steps of the pieces into garments. The same applied to finishing step that involved assessment on whether the garment had been sown well, ironing of the garments and packing of the garments that were idle most of the time. This implied there was build up of inventory in the middle manufacturing steps. This meant work in progress between manufacturing operations affected lead time. This demonstrated the middle manufacturing steps had system based problems that affected continuous flow of manufacturing. This was brought about by long cycle times in the middle manufacturing steps.
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The initial step that involved cutting materials into desired shapes resulted into high defects. There was overproduction of waste materials which resulted into pure wastes. The efficiency of manufacturing was therefore low measured in terms of investment and returns on investment. The company salary scale was based on a daywork plan which meant that employees were being paid for non-productive time. The workers compensation was not affected by the output.
Elements of lean manufacturing for fixing the manufacturing problems
The rationale for determination of element of lean manufacturing that could have been used to fix the manufacturing problem was based on requirement to use the cost defective method for every identified manufacturing waste.
The elements for fixing manufacturing wastes were:
- Managing waste of motion hence idling of employees and machines
- Managing waste from overproduction hence build up of inventory
- Managing waiting of employees and machines to finish a manufacturing cycle
- Managing manufacturing processing steps
- Managing inventory in terms of work in progress
- Managing defects emerging from pure defects produced in manufacturing line
Implementing the solution
Managing daywork remuneration plan
The company should change its employee remuneration strategy from daywork plan that is not dependent on output into using a measured daywork plan where remuneration is based on output (Petterson, 2009). The engineering time standards recommend use of a measured daywork plan as a form of control system for cost expenses. As a result of using measured daywork plan, the employee manufacturing tasks are based on sets of tasks completed.
This ensures employee’s performance promotes productivity hence making employees to attain or exceed production rate. Measured daywork has capability to provide analytical tool that could be used to determine production output as a function of labor cost which ensures the company could retain the right number of employees. Use of the right number of employees decreases costs and increases marginal returns hence profitability of the company. In order for the measured workday plan to contribute into company profitability, there should be increased level of supervision of manufacturing lines to ensure there are no large lot of production at a given manufacturing line which could contribute into increased cycle time.
Employee motivation should be increased to ensure employees are able to manufacture garments to set engineering standards (Ruffa, 2008). This ensures the employees understand manufacturing standards expectations. The line managers should provide employees with feedback on manufacturing goals. A reason for failure to meet manufacturing tasks for a day should be documented.
Managing waste of motion
There should be management strategies to decrease opportunities of waste of motion that occurs when as employees seek instruments and tools that are used to perform different tasks. Tools should that employees require to work with should be assigned by the procurement manager to the liner supervisors. This helps to reduce congestion of employees at the tool stores (Holweg, 2007). Tools that perform a specific task should be grouped or stored at the same tool rack to ensure they are easily accessible. The storage and handling of tools should conform to occupational health and safety standards through education of users to ensure the machines are adequately serviced and service dates are complied with. The safety status of the machines and other equipments should be followed based on manufacturers manual.
Protocols should be set such that employees should acquire tools that they require to use as they start their day’s tasks. The line managers should ensure the manufacturing line has enough tools that are required to complete a specific task.
Managing waste of overproduction
The manufacturing operations should be tailored to manufacture to order. This ensures the manufacturing does not contribute into waste of overproduction which results into build up of inventory. The manufacturing, when it is not based on order, should conform to market demand (Bicheno, 2004). This implies, review of past market demand trends should help in determining the possible current demand. Build up of inventory decreases capital that could be used to make company investment. The company capability to manufacture to service results into pacing production to market demand. This contributes into an efficient and effective manufacturing system. It also decreases wastes that are related to resources (human, material, energy) and operations management.
Managing waiting waste
The waiting waste should be managed by ensuring the lean manufacturing is structured such that manufacturing has shared strategies with suppliers of materials. This ensures materials are supplied in time for use (Petterson, 2009). The company should consider its supply chain as part of business extension since suppliers influence lead times. Communication should be improved across the line managers and suppliers in order to improve lead times. There should be partnership in implementing just-in-time manufacturing, strategic and operational manufacturing planning. The company should integrate its suppliers in quality control, manufacturing methods and as extension of its social corporate responsibility strategy.
Managing wastes of processing
The manufacturing cycle times should have minimal steps. Use of higher number of processing steps result into work in progress wastes which impacts negatively on the lead time. Processing steps should be combined in order to reduce manufacturing cycle times. There should be restructuring of the lean manufacturing process layout, manufacturing design and manufacturing flow (Ruffa, 2008). Manufacturing control methods should be applied in order to decrease opportunities for wastes of processing.
The company should invest in improving the standards and quality of her processing procedures, reformulate its processing operation methods and initiate core values that should be observed to decrease wastes of processing. The company should shift its measures for efficiency and replace its traditional efficiency measures with components like inventory turns and lead time. The company should continuously invest in improving design of processing.
Managing wastes of work in progress
Wastes that occur as a result of work in progress should be managed through solving system problems that contribute into long cycle times. More resources should be invested at a point in the manufacturing cycle where potential of a long cycle time is likely to be observed. Management of long cycle times reduces waiting wastes and wastes of motion of employees (Bicheno, 2004). The company should demonstrate continuous improvement subject to investment in improving her product manufacturing processes, decrease manufacturing wastes emerging from work in progress and enhance her product performance.
The system based problems should be managed by using a demand based flow manufacturing. This would result into use of inventories when they are meant to meet customer manufacture to order or service. This helps to decrease cycle times, decrease inventory build up, increase productivity and profitability and increase capital utility.
Managing wastes of defects
The cutting of the garments should maximize on quantity of pieces that could be realized from a square unit of material. The manufacturing of garments should be based on attainment of efficient production which contributes into manufactured to engineering standards (Ruffa, 2008). The employees should be educated on manufacturing to standards. Supervision of manufacturing should contribute into identification of causes of defective garments that don’t meet required standards.
The management should invest in prevention of defects as opposed to carrying out scrapping and repairs which affect lead times, capacity to quick response and potential of the company to implement Just-In-Time tools. There should be improvement in handling of garments, improvement of performance management of employees and demonstration to comply with customer’s product quality expectations.
Feasibility and sustainability of lean manufacturing
Lean manufacturing should be structured on data on customer demand for the products. This ensures the company manufactures to order, manages wastes of overproduction, decreases wastes of waiting, decreases waste of processing, decreases wastes of inventory, reduces wastes of defects hence achieves continuous flow of manufacturing (Holweg, 2007). Lean manufacturing ensures operations are defined by leveling, need to achieve lead times, reduce wastes in manufacturing materials, increase manufacturing space (through organization and proper storage of materials) and improved management of time. Lean manufacturing results into improvement of safety hence compliance with occupational health and safety standards.
The company should adopt right mix of lean tools, technology and manufacturing processes in order to reduce manufacturing wastes. The company should develop a holistic lean manufacturing culture that is based on consistency of manufacturing to engineering standards. The company should improve on technology in order to benefit from lean manufacturing. The level of company’s technological level impacts on ability to implement ERP solutions that have capacity to support implementation of lean principles hence sustainability of lean manufacturing.
The company should harmonize lean manufacturing with ERP in order to gain economic value from value stream mapping and ensure it achieves capability to eliminate opportunities of manufacturing wastes. The company should stream its business lean culture such that it promotes innovation and creativity that are instrumental for the sustainability of the company growth and long run profitability. The company should integrate PLM best practices into lean principles in order to create an environment for its innovation, and knowledge acquisition hence be positioned to gain top line benefits as well as bottom line benefits.
Bicheno, J., (2004). The new lean toolbox: towards fast, flexible flow, Buckingham: PICSIE Books.
Holweg, Matthias (2007). The genealogy of lean production. Journal of Operations Management 25 (2): 420–437.
Liker, J.K., (2004). The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Pettersen, J., (2009). Defining lean production: some conceptual and practical issues. The TQM Journal, 21(2), 127 – 142.
Ruffa, Stephen A. (2008). Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits. AMACOM.