Data is critical when making decisions and applying lean principles for your manufacturing environment. However, there is often a substantial gap between where your data is stored and point of use, making it difficult to leverage all that your data has to offer.

Recently Derek Singleton with Software Advice offered insights in his article, “How Manufacturing Software Should Adapt to Support Lean Principles” surrounding the use of technology to help bridge this gap and gain more access to vital data. We have offered him a guest spot on our blog to discuss this topic that we know is of great interest to our industry. We hope you appreciate his insights and look forward to your feedback:

Three Ways Manufacturing Software Can Adjust to Lean Principles

There’s a long-standing debate between manufacturing planning strategies. The debate is between proponents of material requirements planning software–better known as MRP software– and lean manufacturing advocates.

The crux of the dispute boils down to whether sophisticated software tools are needed to adequately plan production. Proponents of MRP software believe that today’s complex manufacturing challenges require formal planning tools to get an accurate picture of the production requirements. Lean manufacturing consultants, on the other hand, argue that these planning tools actually get in the way of business process improvement and accurate planning because they’re too slow and transaction-intensive to pace to actual consumption, or adjust to demand fluctuations.

Three Components to Incorporate in Manufacturing Software

I see three main ways that manufacturing software can evolve to adapt to the demands of lean manufacturing. Each way focuses on bringing lean process improvement front and center of manufacturing software packages.

  1. Make Value Stream Mapping a Core Software Component – One of the most important tools in lean manufacturing is create a value stream map to outline the flow of information and materials in the manufacturing plant. Modeling how information and materials flow through a shop floor will allow manufacturers to more easily identify production bottlenecks. This will make it easier for manufacturing software to foster continuous process improvement.
  2. Monitor Cycle Times Intensely – One of the most important business metrics to know in manufacturing is how long it takes for materials to arrive on the dock and to leave in a completed product. In order to improve cycle times, these times need to be monitored and tracked. A subset of monitoring and tracking cycle times is keeping track of production status.
  3. Locate Key Places to Add or Remove Inventory – While there’s ample functionality in manufacturing software for determining what to stock and how much to stock, there is little functionality to help manufacturers figure out where to stock. Functionality that can tell a manufacturer where to stock will help them figure identify the best places to protect against volatility, which will ultimately help avoid product shortages.

These are a few ways that I can see manufacturing software changing to adapt to the requirements of lean manufacturing and the tenets of lean training. However, I’d like to hear your thoughts. If you’re familiar with kaizen, six sigma or have lean certification, I want to know what you think needs to change in manufacturing software to adapt it to lean manufacturing principles.

About Derek Singleton

Derek Singleton is an ERP Market Analyst and writes for the Software Advice and covers manufacturing applications such MRP ERP systems. To find out more about Derek, you can view his online bio. To view the original article, visit the Software Advice blog at: How Manufacturing Software Should Adapt to Support Lean Principles.

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