How Compatible Are Conveyors With Lean Manufacturing? 

Lean manufacturing, otherwise known as lean production, offers a wide range of business benefits, from reducing lead times to improved product quality. As more and more businesses are adopting the principles of lean manufacturing into their everyday operations, more and more questions arise over compatibility with certain technologies. This guide is here to answer any questions you might have about the compatibility of lean manufacturing and conveyors.

What is Lean Manufacturing? 

Before outlining the compatibility of conveyors with lean manufacturing, it is useful to first outline what exactly lean manufacturing is. Lean manufacturing is a form of production process that is based on the concept of both maximizing productivity and minimizing waste.

In the bounds of lean manufacturing, waste is anything that does not add value. The principles of lean manufacturing drive businesses to continuously innovate their practices to boost return on investment and value to their customers. 

Choosing the Right Conveyor 

The question of how compatible conveyors are with lean manufacturing does depend on the type of conveyor you are using. For example, traditional fixed conveyors are usually a large capital investment and will likely require you to spend money on a replacement conveyor belt and other maintenance needs. Fixed conveyors also tend to take up a large amount of floor space, which makes them very difficult to reconfigure as levels of demand fluctuate. 

Since fixed conveyors tend to represent such a substantial investment, it is not uncommon for production managers to run a line when it is not optimal. While this creates the illusion of efficiency, it also reduces unit costs and increases waste potential. Using a modular conveyor system makes it easier to keep in line with lean manufacturing principles, as it is easier to configure the workstations to the changing demands. 

Think About Automation 

When considering the compatibility of conveyors with lean manufacturing principles, you will also need to consider automation options. According to the principles of lean manufacturing, anything that does not add value for the customer is considered waste. If you are using workers to move items up and down the production line, it is uncommon for this process to add real value to the end product. 

Using an automated conveyor belt system can help you to streamline your operations by reducing this waste component. Not only will using an automated conveyor system help you to reduce waste, but it will also increase the safety in your workplace too. 

Increased Information 

Many of today’s conveyor systems come equipped with smart information technology. This means that it is possible for engineers to obtain real-time data about shop-floor logistics. This makes it easier than ever to quickly adapt and respond to demands and potential issues as they happen and avoid incurring unnecessary waste in the future. 

Conveyors can be the perfect solution for your lean manufacturing needs. However, before implementing a new system, it is important that you spend some time reviewing your current operations and identifying areas of waste to ensure you are able to find the very best solution for your business needs.