In a world where time is money, waste is dangerous and competition is fierce, streamlining business processes for optimal output is the nucleus of success. One of the most effective and sustainable ways to achieve this is to foster a ‘lean’ approach to business. Here at Matrix Plastics, we have honed our approach to lean manufacturing over the years and are now working more efficiently and ‘leaner’ than ever as we enter our 30th year.
What do we mean by ‘lean’?
At its core, ‘lean’ manufacturing is about maximising customer value whilst reducing non-value adding activities and minimising waste.
'Lean' | /liːn/ | adjective | thin, especially healthily so; having no superfluous fat.
Whether that’s physical processing waste, inventory waste, monetary waste, resource waste, time waste or energy waste – all waste is reduced in a lean manufacturing system. The benefits of this approach are extensive: improved safety; higher equipment availability; lower defect rates; reduced costs; increased production flexibility; reduced carbon footprint; improved employee morale; better asset usage; and enhanced business image to customers and suppliers.
We see a strong correlation with lean processes and productivity throughout our working environment at Matrix Plastics, and increasingly so since the launch of Matrix Medical Plastics. We believe in doing exactly what we need to do, by who we need to do it, with what we need to do it with, for the time we need to do it for, for the output that we need to achieve/create - nothing more (or superfluous), nothing less and nothing wasted.
A brief introduction to 5S
The 5S principles support a lean working environment; they are very effective at identifying and eliminating waste and increasing efficiency. Although some of this may seem like common sense (perhaps a 'tidy house, tidy mind' mentality), it actually takes a group commitment to ensure the continuity and effectiveness of lean manufacturing. The entire business operation needs to be considered as one unit, where there is a single flow of process leading to the desired outcome: value.
There is some disagreement over where 5S methodology originated from, with both Toyota and Ford laying claim to the concept, but nonetheless the notion of an effectively, efficiently and safely organised workspace is one that many agree provides an optimal environment for success. Benefits to a 5S approach include reduced costs, higher quality, increased productivity, greater employee satisfaction and a safer work environment.
The 5S principles are as so:
Sort (Seiri): Separating essential items from the nonessential in a workspace.
Set in Order / Straighten (Seiton): Organising essential materials so that everything has its place in a work area.
Shine (Seiso): Cleaning the work area and eliminating waste.
Standardise (Seiketsu): Establishing a system to maintain 5S and make it a habit.
Sustain (Shitsuke): Establishing a safe and sanitary work environment.
Safety: a priority
In manufacturing environments such as here at Matrix Plastics, it is imperative to maintain a safe and organised approach to our processing, handling and storing activities. According to the UK Government body HSE (Health & Safety Executive), there are 66,000 injuries a year at work in the manufacturing sector. This includes slips, trips and falls, lifting and carrying, being struck by moving/falling objects and contact with machinery. 5S is practical, hands-on and something that all team members can be a part of / contribute to with regards to keeping the workplace safe.
Whilst lean manufacturing and the principles of 5S are nothing new to industrial processing, there is increasing pressure to condition business activity to become less wasteful and more sustainable. How do we continue to drive high quality, value-added manufacturing with minimal 'waste' and the environment kept in mind? Lean, lean, lean...
Want to experience the Matrix Plastics method? Get in touch today.