Lean Manufacturing is anything but new. The concept, which emphasizes the value in minimising unnecessary manufacturing waste to reduce complexity and cost, has its roots in the early automotive manufacturing systems of Henry Ford, and later, the Toyota Production System of the 1950s.
A lot has changed in the last 70 years, however, and those manufacturers wishing to embrace Lean Manufacturing principles in the modern era have a new suite of tools to aid in the process – those afforded by Industry 4.0.
In this blog post, we will highlight how manufacturers can combine Lean Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, and utilise automation, integration, and cloud connectivity, to reduce manufacturing waste and improve productivity.
“As a manufacturer, Domino has a real understanding of the challenge facing our customers. In our award-winning manufacturing facility in Cambridge our customers can see a factory that embraces Lean Manufacturing principles and Industry 4.0 combining the virtues of a culture of continuous improvement, with Lean design assembly process, and a connected, data-driven factory.”Carl Haycock, UK Printer Operations Director at Domino.
The 8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing
Lean Manufacturing highlights 8 forms of waste that occur within manufacturing operations:
- Non-Utilised Talent
- Extra Processing
A Lean Manufacturing Model advocates optimising processes by eliminating the 8 wastes – allowing manufacturers to focus on value-added production processes.
In the following sections, we will highlight each of the 8 wastes of Lean in turn and speak to some of Domino’s experts in Industry 4.0 to discuss how products and solutions available from Domino can aid manufacturers on their Lean Manufacturing journey.
“At Domino, we practice what we preach, which is why our systems, together with our culture, ensure our people are highly engaged in suggesting and implementing continuous improvement ideas instead of spending time on non-value adding tasks caused by poor system design and defects. All of this puts us in the front seat when designing our solutions to help today’s manufacturers to tackle the dreaded 8 wastes of Lean.”Carl Haycock, UK Printer Operations Director at Domino.
Products that have been incorrectly coded are a huge cause of unnecessary manufacturing waste – costing manufacturers significant time and money to correct.
Often driven by legislative requirements, product coding and marking is a small, but vital step within manufacturing operations, which, if overlooked, can be a significant cause of defects.
“The earlier you capture waste the cheaper it is to deal with,” says Andy Barrett, Senior Product Manager at Domino. “In each step of the manufacturing process additional value is added into a product, so the further through the manufacturing process that waste occurs, the more cost there is to the manufacturer – coding and marking is the final step in the process, so any waste is amplified.”
Mistakes in product coding include incorrect information printed onto final products; issues with code quality, often caused by errors elsewhere on a production line, which can lead to illegible, incomplete, missing codes; and incorrect code placement, including misaligned or misplaced codes.
Domino’s coding automation solutions have been developed to help eliminate or greatly reduce the risk of incorrect codes, by limiting manual data entry. By utilising coding automation software, such as QuickDesign, manufacturers can reduce the need for manual data entry by enabling printers to automatically populate label templates based on a central database or integrate with existing an MES or ERP system to create codes based on existing production orders.
The risks of defects due to incorrect codes, poor print quality, or misplaced/misaligned codes, can be further reduced by establishing a code validation system to ensure that all information on product labels is present, correct, and readable. Integrated cameras, and vision inspection systems, such as Domino’s R-Series, can be set up to work alongside coding and marking systems to check codes and automatically remove incorrectly coded items from the line. Systems can also be set up to keep a count of all rejected codes and alert a production manager when a certain threshold has been reached. If desired, it’s also possible for systems to intervene and stop a line until an issue can be rectified.
Producing too much of a product than is needed to fulfil production quotas can be another cause of waste on production lines. Excess produce needs to be stored until it can be used, necessitating warehouse space, reducing the available shelf life to the end consumer, and, when dealing with highly-perishable items, increasing the chance of products spoiling before they can be sold.
By eliminating defects in production, manufacturers can also eliminate one of the main causes of overproduction – loss of faith.
Overproduction can also occur when a manual process is required to stop a production run – we will explore more on this in the next section.
Waiting for the previous step in a process to complete can be a significant cause of manufacturing waste. On busy manufacturing lines, every second counts – particularly in industries with slim profit margins. Manufacturers that rely on manual processes to stop production lines, and initiate product changeovers, will find themselves at risk of excess waste in the form of waiting.
QuickDesign, Domino’s coding automation software, can utilise information from production orders to work out ahead of time how much of a product is required, and set up an automatic product count, linked to an alert system, to notify a system operative to initiate a stop as soon as a required production volume is achieved.
The same system can be used to allow production staff to prepare for a product changeover ahead of time, streamlining the changeover process and reducing downtime between product runs.
“The waste of waiting can be inextricably tied to overproduction,” says Kulauzovic. “It is impossible to plan ahead to reduce the line stoppages between products if you do not know exactly when a production run needs to come to an end.”
Of course, manual operatives can be deployed to monitor printers, and initiate stops to avoid overproduction – but this would be liable to incur human error and would be a very inefficient use of people’s time.
Automating routine tasks, is one of the surest ways to free up non-utilised talent on production lines, and ensure an engaged, optimised workforce that is better able to foster a culture of continuous improvement, in line with Lean Manufacturing principles.
“People often argue that automated systems eliminate jobs,” says Kulauzovic. “In reality, this is not the case. With Industry 4.0 you are likely to start seeing more highly-skilled job roles emerging – providing opportunities for reskilling, rather than job replacement.”
Indeed, training this new generation of manufacturing personnel is important part of the Domino service offering. A range of bespoke training courses are available alongside all of Domino’s products and solutions, to ensure that production personnel are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve the print quality, reliability, and efficiency, that modern production lines demand.
Excessive transport, movement, and handling of items can be a key cause of manufacturing waste – in coding and marking, unnecessary transportation of products can often be linked back to product defects.
When a defect occurs in the coding and marking of a product, the best possible outcome is reworking – by unpackaging the product and sending it back through the production line to be reprocessed and repacked – all at an additional cost to the manufacturer.
“Unfortunately, in some industries reworking defective products is not an option,” says Barrett. “In the dairy industry, for example, where there is a high risk of spoilage and contamination, whole production orders may need to be scrapped in the event of a coding error.”
Product wastage in this regard will often incur an additional cost to remove, and properly dispose of wasted products – adding additional transport waste to the mix. Fortunately, manufacturers can easily avoid this type of transportation waste, by ensuring that their coding and marking systems are optimised to avoid defects.
Wasteful manufacturing processes inevitably lead to excess inventory in the form of product ingredients. Manufacturers who regularly overproduce will need to have excess stock in place to keep up with their overproduction.
“Holding excess stock to cater for overproduction is a vicious cycle, which is wasteful, and very inefficient in terms of cash flow,” says Barrett. “On food and beverage lines, manufacturers can also run the risk of products spoiling before they can be used.”
As we’ve seen, product defects (including coding) are the main cause of overproduction. By utilising QuickDesign to avoid defects, manufacturers can avoid the need for holding on to excess ingredients. With a streamlined, automated production line, manufacturers need only to hold onto the stock that is needed to fulfil production orders.
If transportation waste occurs in the unnecessary movement of products from one location to another, motion can be understood as the unnecessary movement of people. Industry 4.0 has opened up greater opportunities to reduce motion requirements than ever before.
“Production operatives moving between different pieces of machinery to access or enter information is unnecessary motion,” says Kulauzovic. “With Industry 4.0, transferring and uploading data shouldn’t necessitate manual intervention.”
“In the past, when setting up printers for production runs, and adding, modifying, or creating labels a person would have had to go around to every printer on a line and go through the process manually,” he continues. “With an automated coding solution from Domino, manufacturers can put all label management into a central location. A label is created or edited, from the central control point, and when it is needed it will be automatically sent to the required printer.”
Cloud communications can also be utilised to avoid unnecessary motion and provide a remote overview of how different parts of a production line are working. Manufacturers who utilise the Domino Cloud, for example, can obtain real-time information on printer performance and production metrics from anywhere in the world.
Coding automation, by definition, helps to remove extra processing waste – by automating manual tasks and streamlining production processes.
Traditional manufacturing methods require manual processes in place to ensure that the right data is created and printed onto the right product. When creating a batch code, for example, a production operative would need to follow a procedure to create the data, and ensure that it is correctly printed:
- Formulate the batch code using production order, date, location, etc.
- Enter the code into the printer
- Check the final product to ensure that the code printed is correct and legible
With Industry 4.0 all of these manual processes can be eliminated.
Automated coding solutions provide manufacturers with the ability to create batch, product, and date codes, and populate label templates based on existing production orders, while automatic vision systems can be used to verify product information.
In this way, the manual process of creating, entering, and checking codes can all be effectively eliminated.
Errors and inefficiencies in product coding can be a huge cause of excess manufacturing waste and an even bigger barrier to efficiency.
In industries with slim profit margins, such as food and beverage, and many fast-moving consumer goods, manufacturers need to be embrace Lean Manufacturing principles, and avoid excess waste, to remain profitable.
If you are still utilising manual coding and marking processes within your production line – it is worth considering how the 8 wastes of Lean in coding and marking could be affecting your profits.
By partnering with a trusted coding and marking provider that has experience in system integration, coding automation, and cloud connectivity you can ensure that your coding and marking capabilities are optimised to reduce, rather than create, unnecessary manufacturing waste.