Production processes are subject to constant shortenings of operating cycles, while volumes of various sophisticated products are increasing. Demands and changes are sudden and reaction times hardly reachable through the tendency of lowering fixed costs. Therefore, fast and simple transformation of a production line, together with minimal initial investment, requires comprehensive, innovative, rather hybrid approaches to the and realization of a project.
Lean manufacturing is a principle or even a philosophy that cannot be bought and applied but has to be collectively established at all levels within a company, including the ownership, management, development and operative sphere. It is guided by the phrase “less is better”, which also defines the frequently stressed minimalism in production processes. However, companies must not exaggerate and compromise the quantitative, temporal and qualitative adequacy of offered products. The current crisis shows that tools, such as just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, total quality management (TQM), supply chain management (SCM), Six Sigma (continuous improvements) and KAIZEN (constant improvements), are not so important and helpful if those included in a production process do not overcome the previously set level of egocentric mentality and make everyone involved informed with current problems and, concurrently, immediately invite them to help solving addressed problems. Such approach is a prerequisite that stimulates a humane, innovative, homogenous and, most importantly, successful production.
The key principles of production minimalism are:
- durability, meaning simple machinery start-up and assets maintenance, together with cleverly placed manuals;
- flexible handling of working stations and cells;
- fluent flow of material and information;
- organized structure of working stations;
- quality, regarding products, assets and information;
- simple design of working stations;
- visibility and visualization of material and information.