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Viren Joshi,


Sigma Electric Manufacturing Corporation

PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT The need for lean manufacturing

Mar 19, 2019


With rapid digitalisation, it is essential for the Indian manufacturing industry to adopt Smart and Lean manufacturing practices throughout the system and transform into digital manufacturing plants to remain competitive in the global market.

Smart manufacturing practices precede the implementation of digital manufacturing. Keeping this forward approach in mind, manufacturers need to explore the strategies and actionable steps that can be taken by enterprises, so as to make the most of smart manufacturing technologies and become globally competitive. The key smart technologies enabling the fourth industrial revolution are the IoT platforms, mobile devices, location detection technologies, advanced human machine interface, 3D printing, smart sensors, Big Data analytics, multilevel customer interactions and customer profiling, augmented reality wearables and cloud computing, and automation.

Additionally, by connecting more machines digitally, the operations cycle achieves higher levels of efficiency through an organisation-wide cultural transformation. As lean thinking is applied to the pull system, everything is produced as per the customers’ needs — the customer pulls production and in turn, every workstation pulls requirements from the previous one based on the customer demand. Lean manufacturing practices are inarguably the best available tools to achieve excellence in any manufacturing operation.

To succeed and achieve profitable growth, the 7Ps that should be focused upon are People, Plant (machinery), Policies, Product (quality), Procedures (customer service, on-time delivery), Processes (5S, Lean, SWP) and total Productive maintenance. This philosophy is based on implementing Lean manufacturing practices like Kaizen events, Lean tools and senior management leadership lean projects.

Presently, the major lean tools being implemented are — value stream mapping, 5S and visual management & control, standard work practices, total productive maintenance and Kaizen culture and Single Minute Exchange of Dies. In industrial foundries, lean tools have already helped improve the financial performance and customer service by unlocking organisational value in the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) environment. The physical changes that can occur by implementing 5S & visual factory and cost reduction through various senior management leadership programs will prove to be breakthroughs.

Smart and Lean manufacturing have also helped to visualise the present level of waste occurring and the future possibilities of reducing or eliminating them. The current practices of Smart and Lean manufacturing are indeed eliminating waste with less manual effort. For this, it is necessary to understand and completely apply Smart and Lean tools and initiatives and adopt a 0/100 philosophy — the strife to achieve Zero waste and 100% efficiency.

These value-added activities should be connected in the whole process and must flow through the entire production route, to be followed not only by management, but also by the workforce through a top-down approach. This will lead to an increase in production efficiency by identifying and concentrating on activities that represent value for the customer.

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