India generates approximately 62 million tonnes of waste each year of which, only a handful of 15% is processed. Furthermore, this number increases on an annual growth rate of 4%. About 50% of the generated waste is organic, 21% is recyclable, and 9% is hazardous. Wastes from manufacturing processes contribute significantly to this number. Needless to say, the impact of the generated waste on human health is massive. 

The concern for the environment along with the need to mitigate waste from the manufacturing process led to lean manufacturing. This genre of trade ensures a more efficient method of reducing waste in the environment. The elimination of redundancy also helps in sustaining healthy cash flow. 

Principles of ‘going lean’

A lean way of manufacturing is where the entire focus is on reducing waste to a minimum. Businesses can, therefore, save cost with lean manufacturing. 

There are certain lean manufacturing principles based on which the industry works. Some of those are as follows:

  • Identifying value

This step includes understanding the demand and requirement of customers. It also involves products/services meeting those values. Businesses can eliminate wastes that may have been produced due to unwanted features on the client’s end. 

  • Understanding value stream

Identifying and mapping the stream of value is included in this step. The customer’s value is considered as a reference and all activities contributing to these values. Additionally, those activities which do not cater to a client’s value are categorised under wastes. 

These types of wastes can be categorised under 2 labels:

1- Non-value added yet necessary – It should be reduced as much as possible. 

2- Non-value added and unnecessary – This is pure waste and needs to be eliminated. 

Customers can get precisely what they require and at a reduced production cost with the elimination of unnecessary processes. Lean manufacturing tools like Value Stream Mapping (VSM) help in visualising the product flow mapping.

  • Creation of flow

Items need to be transported from manufacturing to shipping to create a production flow. This movement must be uninterrupted and backed up with a strategic, disciplined organisation on the floor. Any breakdown in this process results in the production of waste. 

  • Pull

Inventory contributes the most to waste production in any manufacturing industry. This step, however, limits the inventory and any work-in-process materials. It also allows for just-in-time delivery and also helps you to boost the supply chain and client relationship as well. 

The products/services so produced cater to the requirements of customers and hence, mitigate any chances of waste generation.   

  • Seeking perfection

Any company adopting lean production needs to aim for perfection. This involves continuous improvement. 

However, incorporating the lean method into organisations requires specific techniques. 

3 techniques of manufacturing through lean method  

  • Kaizen 

In this kind of business practice, the entire focus is on continuous improvisation. The workers involved look into developing their workplace. No criticism is made about any suggestions put forth for improvisation. 

Hence, there is an ambience of open communication and mutual respect.

  • Kanban

This technique focuses entirely on the significant role of visual signs in controlling inventory. Products/services are only assembled when there is a demand from the client’s end. Kanban is placed in the visibility sight in case inventories need to be restocked. 

  • 5S

5S represents a 5 step process to eliminate/mitigate waste. It stems from the 5 Japanese words: shitsuke, seiso, seiri, seiton, and seiketsu. This also increases productivity and efficiency. 

However, irrespective of the genre of trade, any entrepreneur necessarily requires finance to afford lean manufacturing tools and hire skilled employees for this purpose. This calls for financial back-up from leading NBFCs who offer high-value unsecured business loan to meet diverse monetary requirements. 

Lean manufacturing offers many attractive benefits including a safe work environment, higher productivity, low lead times and improved customer service. All these along with the added benefit of lowered waste size make it a preferred mode of manufacturing today.