I remember when I was first introduced to lean manufacturing, I was with one of my previous companies and we were working with a local company named Kaiser Aluminum, now Kaiser Aluminum had a contract with Boeing, they were selling materials to them at a fixed rate. Boeing wanted the material at a certain price and in order to hit that price Boeing was willing to show Kaiser Aluminum how to keep their margins and sell the material to Boeing at a cheaper rate over time. The chart showed a year after year cost breakdown that got cheaper for Boeing but Kaiser’s margins stayed the same, how was this possible? Boeing was teaching them lean manufacturing.
What is lean manufacturing? That answer really depends on who you ask, but in my opinion, lean manufacturing is a cause and effect. If you choose to be efficient with your actions, time, materials, cost, and so on, then the effect is you get to be lean in your operations, which reduces your overhead and operational costs, this sounds really easy but trusts us it’s tougher than you think. Vestis Systems is truly committed to lean manufacturing, when we moved into our new space a few years ago we really got the opportunity to design a space to help us be as efficient as possible and lean manufacturers of our aluminum canopies, sunshades, and awnings.
How has Vestis Systems benefited from lean manufacturing principles and why do you care? First, you should care about lean manufacturing because the core principles can be applied to any industry. Second, if you are an architect, general contractor, or in the construction industry then you probably use or are familiar with commercial canopies, sunshades, and awnings. What lean manufacturing has allowed Vestis Systems to do is get a higher quality product with shorter lead times and do this in a more cost-effective manner. One of the biggest benefits our customers have seen is the ability to take some of the labor out of the field because our high-quality products have been engineered for simple installations in the field, this allows for most teams to take a sub out of the field, saving them cost on installation.
I hope you have found this article to be helpful in some way and on my final note, lean manufacturing is a continuation and pursuit of efficiency. You can’t just stop and say we are lean, you can always get better.