TWI Industrial Member Report Summary 933/2009
Increasingly manufacturers worldwide need to improve their productivity and build-in flexibility to their production systems. High quality products and services are expected alongside reduced costs. The automotive industry pioneered an approach which came to be known as Lean manufacturing or simply Lean. Great benefits have been realised in the automotive sector utilising this approach, and there is an opportunity to extend this into other sectors. The Lean approach is perceived as being built around high volumes and assembly teams dedicated to a single process. Within smaller fabrication operations, the work rates, product changes and links to the new product development (NPD) process result in different requirements being placed upon manufacturing departments. Fabrication and batch manufacturing companies, like the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can no longer compete on price alone, but must improve customer service. TWI can offer unique insight into research in this area with knowledge of all industry sectors and hence an understanding of potential sector to sector transfer of tools and techniques with particular alignment for small and medium enterprise (SME) fabricators. This segment appears to be lagging behind others in adopting state-of-the-art techniques within its operations and business processes, often as a result of the high work rate and rates of product and project turn around they experience combined with limited management resources.
To provide an entry point for the smaller fabricators and specialist manufacturers within TWI's membership, to the concept of Lean transformation and to a toolkit of Lean manufacturing core techniques that could be deployed within SMEs and fabricators as part of a Lean manufacturing transformation.