Quality – A lean manufacturer’s view

I have been thinking about the cost of the quality for some time now. I read some very interesting articles and studied some theories. I was particularly interested about the cost of quality explanation with the cost of prevention and cost of failure. According to this theory there is a cost component attached with prevention of defects and there is a cost component attached with the quality defects. With the achieved (Or accepted) quality level these components vary. Higher the quality expected, higher the cost for prevention. In this case cost of defects will be lower. Other way around is also same. The cost effective operation point is in between these two points. You will have to find this point such that, you achieve the best quality with the lowest cost. This cost will have components, cost of failure and cost of prevention. This seems to be very logical way to operate in today’s quality conscious world, with the lowest costs.

But being a lean thinker, I thought why there should be a cost for the quality anyway? It is cheaper to produce high quality products than low quality ones. Let me explain this. Think for a moment. In the theory given above, there will be no cost for prevention if the system didn’t have costs of failure. In simple terms we need to prevent the quality defects because they are happening in the system. If we do not have failures in quality, then there is no need to prevent quality defects. That is if we can remove the cost of quality defects from the system, we will be able to automatically remove the prevention costs from the system. We can not remove one cost component from the system because they are interrelated. If a manufacturer has a system proven to produce high quality item, then he has no cost of defects. That is he will not have a cost of prevention. So he has no cost of quality.

Remember I am talking about a manufacturer who produces high quality products. I am not talking about a manufacturer who produces average products and then do the sorting. The quality should be inbuilt. Quality can not be imposed from outside control.

Lean manufacturing implementation process

Implementation of lean manufacturing is a step by step process. It should be well planned and well designed to suit the requirement of the organization. It is very important to understand the principles and concepts of lean manufacturing even before thinking about implementation. Not only the core teams, but also all the people in the organization must be well educated on lean manufacturing.

When you are well prepared implementation is a four step process. First we have to understand the fact that there are wastes to be removed. Then these wastes must be categorized and ranked according to the urgency of removal from the system. In this step we have to understand the root causes which cause these wastes. After understanding the root causes, they must be removed from the system. Finally after removing your root causes it is very important to analyze your result with the targets you set. If you are satisfied move to the next priority. Redo the circle again and again continuously.

For more information visit Lean manufacturing implementation

Difference between your value and lean manufacturing value of a product

One of the features of lean manufacturing is the customer focus. It depends on the market forces to pull the production out of the factory. Like this lean manufacturing defines value of a product with the customer point of view.

What your customer has to do for the inefficiencies you have. Why they should pay for all the problems you have. No I am not talking about customer buying a defective product. But still they pay for your defects. How? Because these inefficiencies add to your cost. This will increase price of the products. Ultimately who is paying for the inefficiencies you had in your system. Your customer, right.

If some manufacturer say “My products are costly because they are of high quality” what your reaction will be? You might say “it is better to buy a product, which is high in quality for some extra cost”. But for me this is a joke. This manufacturer is not a high quality manufacturer, but an average manufacturer. He picks high quality products from the rest. Then he will have low quality products which are of low value. To overcome this cost of low quality, he has to charge you more for the god quality product. This is why the price goes up. Isn’t it funny, you are paying for the low quality products manufacturer produce in an indirect way.

This is why best manufacturers around the world say “quality is not costly”. In fact according to the lean manufacturing concepts it cheaper to produce high quality products.

Lean manufacturing cyclic concepts

Lean manufacturing is not a do and forget kind of system. It is a cyclic and continuous process. Lean manufacturing depends on small and continuous improvement techniques, which are known as kaizen.

Lean manufacturing principles therefore calls for the continuous attention to the system all the time. Failing to do so, will make the system to perform badly and will ultimately to stop. In fact most of the success of the lean manufacturing comes form this thinking. Successful lean manufacturers are the people who have taken small steps continuously toward their success. This makes change manageable. People will not be de motivated and they are less likely to be resistant to small changes rather than big changes. Also this gives the ability to use the brains of the people in more productive ways. People will start enjoying the changes since there are actively participating in making these changes. Risk of failing will be minimal. If something goes wrong the system can recover very fast since the changes are in small scale.

It is very nice to have a big boom in the process. But even then, it has to be managed and continuo to get the best out of it. Although lean manufacturing is not against big innovations, lean manufacturing concepts are more geared towards small continuous sustainable changes and innovations.

Work In Progress – Is it a friend or an enemy

WIP was the former friend of the manufacturers. But no more. Work In Progress is now treated as an enemy by most of the manufacturers. Lean manufacturing concepts are based on JIT, where no stocks are maintained.

More than this, lean manufacturing treats work in progress as a reflection of wastes that system has. Any imperfection in the system will create a requirement for WIP. For an example, if there is a machine breakdown there will be overproduction and ultimately will increase the WIP.

Importantly, WIP will give us a visual signal, if there is a problem. Simply if you see a high working progress near a workplace, you can understand there is a problem there. That is how to use WIP positively.

Lean manufacturing Vs Traditional manufacturing

Many people think that lean manufacturing as using a set of tools to fine-tune the existing manufacturing system. They think lean manufacturing as an extension of the current manufacturing systems they have. But it is not true. Lean manufacturing is conceptually different from the traditional manufacturing. Therefore it is very important to understand the conceptual differences between traditional manufacturing and lean manufacturing.


For an example traditional manufacturing depends on Work In Progress. On the other hand lean manufacturing treats WIP as a waste itself and as a reflection of the imperfection the system has. I believe this example itself shows the fundamental difference between the traditional and lean manufacturing systems.


Visit http://www.leanmanufacturingconcepts.com for further information.


Lean manufacturing and textile industry – II

OK, if you have read the article below, we had a question. Read it once more before you start reading this post.

Think about the garment you are wearing. What it has. It has fiber (or the leather as the case may be), and some sewing thread, buttons, a design and some motifs, few labels may be very few other items. Calculate the rough value of these items on the garment individually and add together and calculate the value of this. I am sure you will be shocked. It might be less than 10% of the amount you paid to buy your garment. Then why these big retailers are pricing them so high. They might be able to get a good market cover by selling these at lower price.

It is not that your retailers are making very high profits(although they earn very good money on the business). This is an inbuilt problem in garment making process. OK think now,

Do you really want to make a small strand of yarn from the cotton bale and again a even smaller yarn. These processed do not add value to your final product. Even do they need to produce yarn and then make them in to fabrics and then in to garments. I do to see a point in this if not for fashion reasons. The process has a inherent chain of wastes, which will take up most of the resources available in the process.

After going through all these wastes and making the fabric, somewhere around 20% of the fabric will be wasted as the cutting wastes in the apparel manufacturing. It is a waste on waste. This is how your garment price goes high.

I really want some of you to have a closer look in to this process so you will understand all the problems inherent to the system. All though I have done a good study I do not want to tell you all the information about this, since then you will loose the direction and surely will get confuse.

So think lean, and think about the process of apparel manufacturing. You will simply see the importance of lean manufacturing as a philosophy and as a system.

Lean manufacturing and textile industry – 1

Have you ever wonder “why I need to become a lean thinker”. If you have so, I have a very good example


Think about the textile industry. Think about the garments made out of these textiles.


Do you know how many processes in producing the fabric which makes your garment? First the cotton has to be cultivated. Then the cotton is harvested and then made in to bales of cotton. Then they are transported to the mill


In the mill, the bails are opened up and go through set of machines. Then these cotton fibers are made in to a thick sliver. Then these slivers go through another machine and made in to small strands. Then it goes through another machine and made into yarns.


These yarns then goes through many processes and then becomes the grey fabric. This grey fabric then becomes the finished fabric with an array of processes.


Then this fabric transported to apparel manufacturers. They do many operations and then cut them. Then they sew them in to the final garment.


So, complex enough. But it is said that less than 1% of cost of the finish garment is the cost of the fiber. But the fiber contributes for at least 80% of the weight of the garment. Funny isn’t it?


What is the reason for this?


I will explain in the next post



Lean manufacturing and world peace

I am a strong believer in lean manufacturing for it’s ability of stop wars J


Why people are fighting. In almost all the cases for some resource. Specially for the resources with limited supply. A good example may be oil.


Have you ever thought your car is a contributor to war in middle east. No, I am not talking about the war. But think…


If your car is 1% more efficient in fuel consumption, how much of oil this world might have saved. Think, the oil prices might not have this high of that has happened.


You might think this is not relevant to lean manufacturing. But for me, lean manufacturing is a philosophy, which talks about efficient use of resources. Lean manufacturing is a way of life. Think….


There is nothing in this world to be wasted. You might pay for some product, of cause you can use that, but you can not waste…..