Lean manufacturing is defined as a systematic manufacturing method that aims at waste reduction during its process without sacrificing its productivity. It considers the waste created both through overburden and unevenness in the workloads (Ruffa, 2008). In this discussion, we will explore three companies that use lean manufacturing method describing the problems they face during implementation of this process. The study will further highlight the qualitative benefits and quantitative results that each of the three companies achieves or derives from this process of lean manufacturing. We will discuss Nike, Kimberly-Clark and Toyota companies as they use lean manufacturing as a better and cheaper process in their day to day productions.
Nike is an American Multinational Corporation that deals with designing, manufacture, and selling of footwear, and equipments worldwide. It is known to be among the largest supplier of Sports equipment in the whole world. The company uses Human Resource Management in surveying their staff for insight on key issues and seeking out opportunities for positive change and best practices for continuous production improvement. They use Quality award programs to motivate employees to focus on project based quality. They also institute Improvement programs where they focus on training on lean and they provide employees with skills required to embrace continuous production improvement. Nike has also strived to use external benchmarking programs. This involves comparing objectives opportunities and embracing best internal practices that are performance based (Baudin, 2016).
During this implementation is not without challenges. They face absenteeism from the staff, high turnovers, weak demands at times, forced overtime to the employees and also manager-worker relationships challenges. These among others affect productivity and relenting criticism from their customers. However, this doesn’t limit the company from achieving massive quality and quantitive benefits. From understanding the value of customer value and focussing on quality production minimizing waste, they have overtime experienced high profits, timely production, faster and better competitive production processes and improved production (Baudin, 2016).
Kimberly-Clark another company that uses lean manufacturing process. It is an American multinational Corporation that deals with manufacture and sale of personal care and paper-based consumer products like the facial tissue by the name Kleenex, Kotex feminine hygiene products, other wipes and tissue papers among others. They implement lean by using efficient workplace approach where they combine lean manufacturing principles with customer based product and industrial practices. They ensure they use the best conveyance method by avoiding unnecessary movement of their products and automating their storage and retrieval of products. The company also ensures there is no non-value added movement of machines or staff by implementing downtime whenever no work is being done (Dormell, 2012).
This company has tried to avoid overproduction of defective products through thorough inspection. They also ensure separation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste and ensuring standardized techniques for production. Though the company faces the production storage and retrieval challenges together with stiff competition from other production companies, they enjoy a lot of quality benefits from embracing a lean workplace. These include enhanced workplace safety, improved and even quality of products and reduced production time. They also enjoy improved profit margins from increased sales and supplies ( Dormell, 2012).
Toyota is a Japanese Motor Corporation that deals with automotive manufacturing. Its headquarter is located in Toyota, Aichi in Japan and it is the largest hybrid automotive manufacturer in the world. This company embraces lean by ensuring they optimize every individual step of production, enduring they produce products with no flaws or defects and reducing manufacturing costs. They also ensure they produce only customer demanded products and avoid unnecessary production that leads to unnecessary inventory. For maximum and efficient production, the company ensures their systems are flexible enough to reduce on time wastage. It’s also a vital objective that they maintain a strong and reliable relationship between customers and suppliers to strengthen their competitiveness in the market (Ruffa, 2008).
One challenge that Toyota faces is that their production process involves difficult jobs that require special skills from their team of employees. This at times creates variations and inconsistency in work resulting to issues in quality of products and workplace safety. However the company enjoys improved overall performance from their cost reduction strategies and reduced storage costs. Their production quantity is also improved and due to customer loyalty and increased demand for their value added production (Ruffa, 2008).
In conclusion, every production company should be encouraged to embrace lean manufacturing strategies as this brings in a significant contribution to the overall performance. With lean, there is continuous improvement that leads reduced production costs, waste minimization, healthier, safer and a more productive workplace. A company that uses lean processes benefits both qualitatively and quantitatively.
- Baudin, Michel. “Can Lean Manufacturing Put an End to Sweatshops? | G. Distelhorst | Hbr.” Ideas from Manufacturing Operations. (2016): 2016-5. Print.
- Dormehl, Amanda. “Meet Donna Mcpherson : Driving Higher Order Conversation with Kimberly-Clark Professional’s Customers.” Management Today. 30.7 (2012): 34-39. Print.
- Ruffa, Stephen A. Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits. New York: American Management Association, 2008. Print.