Considered both a philosophy and a discipline, lean is responsible for increasing access to information so that the right decisions can be made and passed along as customer value. Lean’s roots are deeply entrenched in manufacturing, and only in the more recent years has it been seen as a business methodology as well. Yet even today, new lean manufacturing trends continue to emerge. Let’s take a look at a few.

The New Digitizing Trend

Technology is a big enabler for lean manufacturing practices. Automation can replace some manual labor, saves time, and frees up employees to do more human-centric tasks such as analytics and problem-solving while the machines do machine-centric tasks. Digitizing manufacturing is a big trend expected through 2019 and into 2020, as many manufacturing companies are dramatically increasing their digitization and expect to be ranked as digitally advanced by 2020. These same companies are putting their money where their mouth is, committing around five percent of revenues toward that connectivity.

Look at some of the ways others are digitizing for lean practices in 2019. How many are you implementing in your manufacturing operations?

Embrace the Change Automation Brings

Automation has long been the backbone of lean manufacturing. Many fear that automation will eliminate manufacturing jobs for humans, and they’re not entirely wrong. Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled automation could eliminate up to 9 percent of U.S. jobs. However, AI automation also creates other job opportunities that support this new automation economy, from those who service the equipment to those who will use the data produced by automation to continue improving business and manufacturing processes.

Automation supports lean manufacturing by allowing companies to run production longer, faster, and with fewer errors than by human power, saving both time and overhead, and allowing the company to do more with fewer resources.

Deeper Connections via IoT

We already have app-enabled coffee mugs and smart home thermostats. With the increasing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) comes the possibility of connected equipment that can exchange data with other machines and networks based on activities, sensors, and analytical insights. In fact, Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2020, half of the $267B companies will spend on IoT products, technologies, and services will be driven by industries such as manufacturing.

Using IoT—which is geared toward efficiency, reliability, and availability—has ushered in a whole new way of converting raw materials into marketable products. Not only that, machines significantly reduce the margin of error. They don’t need breaks, sick days, or training, so they’re a reliable and cost-effective efficiency improvement. While the capital investment up front might seem daunting, the long-term reductions in operational expenses are worth it. Some of the uses for IoT in manufacturing include:

  • Tracking tools and fixtures
  • Work-in-progress tracking
  • Process automation

See the Future through Machine Learning

We’ve already seen how technology can bring down labor costs, reduce product issues, and increase production. Machine learning then takes the data collected by your automated and connected IoT devices and uses that to monitor and predict issues in your manufacturing process. Imagine knowing a machine will need service before it breaks down, based on specific histories of issues on that machine. Other systems read information and find ways to optimize a machine’s productivity, emissions, or other issues even better than a human could.

Lean Manufacturing with ASI

No matter how advanced the solution your business is looking for, Accounting Systems Inc. is committed to understanding your organization’s unique needs and, from there, creating the right software package to position you for success. ASI’s extensive history, along with both Sage and Acumatica partnerships, mean that we can create a package of ERP and accounting software that reflects the most effective solution for your company. We’ll even help you roll it out and support it once it’s up and running.

If one of your 2019 goals was to improve your manufacturing processes’ lean capabilities, it might be time to start with your technology, starting with ASI. Contact us today to see how going lean can revolutionize your manufacturing.