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How to Become a Truly Lean Manufacturer

Ron Lilek , July 26, 2021
Become a lean manufacturer with today’s top technologies and operational strategies.

The manufacturing industry represents 54% of the world’s energy consumption and 20% of global emissions. There is a growing need for the industry to “go green” and practice enhanced sustainability, but this can improve production outcomes for manufacturers’ financial benefit, as well.


How can you increase production, profits, and customer and employee satisfaction while decreasing waste, errors, and downtime? These and many other benefits are realized through the implementation of lean manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing is sometimes referred to as “common sense” manufacturing. It entails an in-depth, comprehensive understanding of your entire operation, and empowering your workforce as a partner. Lean manufacturing is a team effort, requiring buy-in and full participation from the boardroom to the loading dock. In other words—making full use of all resources for sustainable improvement and growth.


What it Takes to Become a Lean Manufacturer

There are various widely accepted strategies that can help lead your manufacturing team to a leaner operation. Here are some ways today’s manufacturers are improving their efficiency:

  • Instituting Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is essential to lean manufacturing and can help identify and eliminate waste across your organization. It entails utilizing proactive and preventative equipment maintenance to get the most out of your assets’ lifespans and reducing downtime. This strategy works hand-in-hand with the 5S theory of creating a clean and well-organized work environment:
    • Sort (eliminate anything that’s not truly essential in a work area)
      Set in Order (organize the items that remain)
      Shine (clean and inspect work areas)
      Standardize (create standards for performing the above steps)
      Sustain (ensure the standards are regularly applied)
  • It’s also important to visualize the flow of a single product or service from your supplier, to your shop floor, and to your customer, in order to discover and identify delays and processes that don’t add value to the process. This strategy is called Value Stream Mapping (VSM).
  • Make sure to also establish the Takt time for each process and piece of equipment to better manage demand. Takt time is the amount of time an item or service needs to be completed if a customer’s on-time delivery will be met. This is referred to as your sell rate and is often considered the heartbeat of your work process. Calculating and meeting your Takt time enables your organization to optimize its capacity to meet demand, without keeping too much inventory in reserve.
  • Incorporate OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) to determine the effectiveness of all processes and for each piece of equipment. Simply put, production uptime vs. production downtime.
  • Implement Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) to reduce setup and cycle time, improve batch quality, and reduce costs. This process converts internal elements (those which require machine downtime) to external elements (those which can be accomplished while the machine continues to operate). The less downtime you require to retool, the leaner your operation becomes.
  • Utilize kanban manufacturing to produce Continuous Flow Analysis. This is done by using a signaling system based on consumption, replacing items only after they are sold. In turn, this creates a pull (response to demand) instead of a push (predicting demand) system to reduce excess inventory.
  • Form standardized operations and continue to improve them using Kaizen manufacturing, with a focus on eliminating bottlenecks in the manufacturing process. The five fundamental Kaizen principles include: 
    • Know your Customer
    • Let it Flow
    • Go to Gemba (visit the shop floor, a short way to say “Be aware of everything”)
    • Empower People
    • Be Transparent

Your Heavy Hitter: CPQ


It’s also important to make sure that not only your manufacturing processes are lean and sustainable, but that your manufacturing sales processes are, too.

CPQ (Configure Price Quote) is a sales technology that generates accurate product configurations and quotes quickly. CPQ software is directly integrated with your CRM platform and ERP programs, ensuring enterprise integration and accuracy. This integration is the bedrock of your lean strategy, providing complete and accurate inventory and a real-time interface with customers and suppliers enterprise-wide.

Verenia CPQ is the only CPQ specifically built to meet the needs of manufacturers and distributors, delivering a 93% reduction in errors, 99% reduction in user training time, a 49% increase in average proposal volume, and an incredible 100% increase in deal size. A significant reason for these impressive numbers is that with Verenia CPQ, your salesforce can accurately configure complex products and deliver quotes in minutes, increasing manufacturing sales, gaining customers, and eliminating the costly errors in manual processes.

With Verenia, your salesforce is empowered to configure complex products within the parameters you’ve defined, assuring compatibility with production and guardrails intended to prevent errors.

Overall, lean manufacturing is a practice that can increase productivity, profitability, and customer and employee satisfaction while improving the impact of the manufacturing industry on the environment. It can significantly boost production and profits while reducing errors and waste.

In today’s marketplace, the bottom line is that manufacturers must be flexible and able to respond quickly to changing customer demands and increasingly rapid turnaround times. If they don’t, the competition will. Attempting to achieve such agility while burdened with outdated and ineffective procedures, excess inventory, with sales and production teams that are not integrated, is a recipe for failure.


Taking the Next Step in Lean Manufacturing

Implementing CPQ software creates a comprehensive platform to develop, implement, and operate your lean manufacturing strategy. Only Verenia’s CPQ is made specifically to serve the needs of today’s manufacturers. It is the only CPQ solution developed by manufacturing experts for manufacturers. Schedule a demo and see the platform in action today.

Tags: Manufacturing, manufacturing sales

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See how your organization can increase sales, reduce costs and differentiate your brand by using Verena's CPQ and CRM solutions
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Request a Demo
See how your organization can increase sales, reduce costs and differentiate your brand by using Verena's CPQ and CRM solutions
Schedule Demo