Companies practicing lean manufacturing experience many benefits with improved process efficiencies, inventory management, lead times, and profitability. Assembly and kitting are practices that contribute to lean production operations when designed and implemented properly. Hand assembly and kitting can be labor-intensive and monotonous for manufacturers.
Outsourcing assembly and kitting can improve your own lean operations, and when contract kitting suppliers practice lean operations, you can have confidence in receiving quality products on time.
Identify Waste in Lean Production
Lean principles and practices can be applied to any industrial process with the main focus on eliminating waste in production. Identifying inefficiencies and waste is key to implementing lean practices and improvements. Hand assembly operations can introduce various inefficiencies with intricate, time-consuming tasks that can create bottlenecks in your process.
The 8 Wastes of Lean, as identified by SixSigma.us, follow the acronym TIMWOODS and include:
All of these areas should be evaluated when identifying inefficiencies or waste in hand assembly and kitting.
Critical Steps to Lean Hand Assembly and Kitting
Careful evaluation of these areas will help contract kitting and assembly providers to eliminate waste with lean hand assembly processes.
Transportation – the distance required to transport work in process from one department to another is a key area of improvement. Simple production compositions with the shortest transportation distance available promote lean operations.
Inventory – assembly and kitting providers that maintain enough inventory for the process without creating excessive over stocking situations are most efficient. Inventory is an asset, although excess inventory is considered wasteful.
Motion – unnecessary movement required of employees, machinery, or equipment is wasteful. When workers need to stretch, reach, lift, walk, or bend in excess, these extra movements add up to wasted minutes and hours and could create repetitive stress on personnel. Reducing motion waste improves efficiencies and increases employee health and safety.
Waiting – when employees are waiting on material or equipment that is sitting idle, this waiting halts production and disrupts efficient assembly and kitting. Designing processes to ensure continuous flow prevents unpredictable bottlenecks.
Overproduction – producing products with the “just in case” theory instead of “just in time” may keep an idol workforce busy, but overproduction creates excess inventory that is wasteful. Lean assembly and kitting follow the rules of lean manufacturing, where products should be produced to order, not prior to demand.
Over-Processing – overprocessing includes performing added functions over requirements. Companies that utilize a Kanban system experience benefits from an effective tool that supports smooth running production and highlights lead times and cycle times for improvement.
Defects – recognizing a defect in an assembled component after assembly is extremely wasteful and requires disassembly of the entire unit. Every workstation and every kitting and assembly process should display clearly defined work instructions, including any critical dimensions that should be checked and images of common defects. All employees in every stage of the assembly process should be performing visual inspections or taking measurements as required.
Skills – not utilizing the human talent and ingenuity present in employees is a waste of skill. Companies that engage employees in the process allow for improvements.
PPS Practices Lean Assembly and Kitting
Peoria Production Solutions, PPS, is an ISO9001:2015 certified contract assembly and kitting provider, following a strict quality policy with top-down involvement and employee engagement. We support lean production for some of the largest Fortune 100 companies in the country, as well as small to medium-sized businesses. PPS helps companies of all sizes to improve lean operations with reliable, high-quality contract kitting and assembly services.
Our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system provides complete traceability and full accountability of all customer-supplied material. We practice Value Stream Mapping to improve process efficiencies and eliminate bottlenecks for a streamlined workflow. Cross-training of a skilled work staff improves efficient product flow, supporting lean assembly and kitting practices.
PPS is recognized as a lean assembly and kitting provider with more than 80 years of experience, automated equipment, and a skilled work staff. We have the capacity to set up dedicated assembly workstations, allowing you to free up capacity to focus on your niche manufacturing process. Contact us to learn more about our lean practices and how we can add value to your supply chain with lean hand assembly and kitting services.