Lean manufacturing is a popular plant management method, but it does have flaws. Depending on the
company using the technology, lean manufacturing could overlook some very vital and costly areas
for waste elimination. These are known as the blind spots of lean manufacturing. By understanding the
blind spots in a lean manufacturing plan, the company can make corrections to get the most benefits
and savings available.
Pollutants and Risky Materials
The tenets of lean manufacturing can identify overproduction, high energy transport patterns and more,
but it does not differentiate between safe and unsafe materials. As long as the materials are being
used in production and they are used in an efficient manner that adds value to the product, the lean
manufacturing concept see no issue. However, plants that deal in pollutants and other risky materials
must have certain redundant measures in place to keep workers and the environment safe. Some of the
redundancies are also mandated by the government and can’t be circumvented. Lean manufacturing
concepts get hung up in these areas, flagging them as waste areas or they ignore them altogether, along
with possible waste elimination opportunities in corresponding areas.
Raw material extraction is another area where lean manufacturing does not work. It’s another blind
spot. Like the handling of hazardous materials, extraction processes have safety measures that must be
adhered to in order to comply with government mandates and to keep workers alive. The redundancies
and inefficient movements are not negotiable in extraction. This is especially true if volatile or fragile
materials are being handled.
Disposing of materials after production lay outside of the realm of lean manufacturing. Disposal is not
a process that adds value to the product in production. However, the costs of freight, packaging and
more leave opportunities for implementing lean concepts. This is one of few blind spots that can be
negotiated if it is found.
Like any other process, management or organization method, lean manufacturing does have its flaws.
Fortunately, these flaws are easily identified if the company looks closely at every step of the company
processes. Leave the spots that can’t be negotiated, but pay special attention to the areas that can be.
Doing so is the best way to ge the most out of the lean manufacturing experience.
Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and implementation of factory automation systems worldwide.