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Lean Facility

By Joel Bradbury

Lean Facility with Kanban Bins

Creating a Lean Facility

The global market places significant pressure on businesses and other organizations to increase efficiency, improve profits, and reduce costs as consumers simultaneously demand lower-cost and better quality goods. In response, many lean manufacturing tools and methodologies have been developed to help businesses meet these demands. These tools work to increase efficiency, improve quality, and reduce costs by identifying and eliminating many common sources of waste (overproduction, inefficient use of space, waiting, defects, and excessive motion).  

While there are many lean tools, 5S and Kanban are especially useful and can help your facility on its journey to become lean.

Phases of Lean Facility Design with 5S

Lean Facility Design with 5S5S provides a structured framework that can help workers eliminate waste by improving processes and reorganizing the workplace. The system includes five steps (five Ss) that can improve your facility’s efficiency:

Sort eliminates waste by reducing clutter and maximizing the available workspace. Remove tools, supplies, and equipment that are not needed in the work area.

Set in Order improves efficiency and make it easier to do work. This includes reducing the distance between workstations, locating supplies near their point-of-use, and making organization visible with labels and floor marking.

Shine helps workers spot issues by removing clutter and other items that can hide problems. A clean facility will make it easier to find oil leaks and spot excessive wear caused by improper alignment, or identify equipment that is not functioning correctly. 

Standardize consists of documenting changes, so they can be applied in similar work areas. When workers move from one station to the next, they have what they need and can perform work efficiently.

Sustain requires each step to be repeated on a daily basis. This ensures that facilities can improve work practices on a daily basis.

Visual communication is an important factor in any lean facility. Labels and signs can help organize your facility’s storage system, identifying where things go, and providing essential information. They create a visual map that enables workers to quickly find what they are looking for and put things back when they are done with them. 

Lean Facility Design with Kanban

Kanban Labels: Lean Facility

Kanban is a lean tool that helps reduce waste by controlling how materials move throughout the supply chain. Kanban helps create a lean facility because:

  • Every pallet, bin, or box has an attached Kanban card. The card identifies the item and quantity that should be ordered, ensuring that the right parts are ordered every time.
  • The production floor only orders the exact item and quantity listed on the Kanban card. Parts are only ordered when the current supply runs out or reaches the specified “order” level. The card is removed and sent to purchasing.
  • The purchasing department only sends the supplies listed on the Kanban card. They do not send supplies unless they have a Kanban card.

Kanban improves processing by creating a consistent and orderly flow of materials. Instead of providing materials based on a rough guess, materials are provided in the exact number that is needed. Orders cannot pile up at the inspection station, and they cannot overwhelm the shipping department.

Kanban reduces errors because it limits work-in-progress. New work does not begin until the current work is completed and moved to the next area. If a worker notices that the items do not match the order, the worker does not receive additional items until the problem is fixed. Defective items are not passed on to customers. This reduces waste caused by recalls and improves profits by providing superior products to customers.

Lean Facility Solutions

Support your lean facility with powerful visual communication. DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products can support your 5S program. Print labels to identify equipment and tools, create signs to identify where items go and provide essential safety information where it is needed most.

Share important procedures, upcoming changes, and department goals using Echo large-format printer and enlarger by Graphic Products. Quickly enlarge procedures, flowcharts, and meeting minutes to seamlessly communicate with your workers and support your lean facility.

Take your facility to the next step with the in-depth Best Practice Guide to 5S and Best Practice Guide to Kanban by Graphic Products. Learn more about these lean facility tools and how they can improve safety, increase production, and reduce defects throughout your facility.

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