Top Problems in Project Manufacturing and The Lean Fix
You have most likely heard of product manufacturing as it is the most common style of manufacturing we think of, but what is project manufacturing and how does it differ from product manufacturing? In this post, we’re going to take a look at product vs. project, what the top problems are in project manufacturing and how to apply the Lean fix to solve them.
Project Vs Product
Product manufacturing involves the creation of a range of products that have been refined, standardised and tested. This process is the same each time the product is created and is therefore easy to provide structure and cut the waste. Project manufacturing is often found in the commercial and housing building, shipbuilding, aircraft and plant and equipment industries. This manufacturing style involves the creation of several different bespoke builds happening in the same factory. With the products being produced rarely ever the same, this style of manufacturing can be difficult, but not impossible, to standardise meaning that companies that work within this format can be reluctant to start the Lean journey.
The project manufacturing process, due to its one-off nature, can often be seen as too complex and sporadic for Lean principles to work.
After all, with ever-changing products, how can you create standardised processes to fit all?
This fast-moving and growing style of manufacturing can benefit from Lean methodology just like product manufacturing. ClarityVM Consulting works with clients to create bespoke solutions for their business to succeed at Lean and cut the waste from their process. In this blog, we will take a look at some common problems faced in the world of project manufacturing and the lean fix that you can apply to them.
“Not my problem…”
Projects will often pass through different departments on its route to completion, as shown in this example:
However, problems in the process can arise with lack of communication or inaccurate or incomplete information being passed on, causing delays in the process which lead to late deliveries and escalating costs as no-one is responsible for seeing the entirety of the project through.
The Lean fix for this problem would be to assign a Project Manager for each project. The project manager oversees the entire scope of the journey and takes ownership for the project as a whole and is responsible for ensuring deadlines are adhered to, budgets are met and that the consistency of information flows.
There are no standards…
Bespoke products can mean there are no standards, so the quality and amount of waste can vary product to product. Costs can increase when during the design and planning stage there is too much freedom of choice.
When thinking about a Lean fix, this does not actually need to be the case as project manufacturing factories are usually in the same industry meaning that parts and structure are often shared between products, meaning that the basic structure can often be standardised with the finer details bringing in the bespoke elements. One of the most important parts of the process to look at standardising are the suppliers within the supply chain. If the engineers are confined to trusted suppliers then it will help keep the costs down with negotiated prices and bulk orders and also ensure that there are limited delays in waiting for items as a service level agreement can be put in place, allowing suppliers to be selected based on lead time and quality.
Getting a jump start of the project does not save time
In project manufacturing, there can often be a temptation to get started before the project has been fully passed over. This is to try and save time to meet delivery objectives. However, this is often not often the case as until the project has been signed off, there is the potential for every element to change meaning that deadlines and timescales can move, which will lead to waste in the process if it has already begun and thus forth take longer to complete.
The Lean fix is to implement a ‘good to go’ procedure which ensures the project does not move along the chain until it has been signed off as ‘good to go’ by the department and project manager.
The missing link
Inadequate information in the process will inevitably lead to mistakes in the final product. All too often we see waste as a result of people assuming they will know what they mean.
The Lean fix is to apply a set of information standards here to ensure the information passed through the manufacturing process is clear and complete.
There is no flow to the process
Project manufacturing tends to take on a static build process, where each project is a flow within itself. This can lead to problems when the workers in the factory must jump between projects due to lack of parts or a higher priority. This results in delays in the process, to much space on the factory floor, mistakes, and a large waste of time transferring people and tools to different areas.
The Lean fix here is to apply a pulse flow system to the workflow. This is where the product will move down the line at set intervals at the same time as everything else. This will avoid backups in the system and waiting for tools. Good visual management will help this system run smoothly so departments and managers can keep track of production flow and progress.
Adding a simple Lean fix to the project manufacturing progress will help remove the waste from the system, increase productivity, improve internal communication between departments, which will lead to improved lead times.
For help in devising bespoke lean measures to your manufacturing process contact the helpful experts here at ClarityVM. Our experts in Lean can work with your business to refine your flow, cut the waste from the process and increase productivity. Book your call and start your Lean journey today!
ClarityVM Consulting, helping you find the Lean fix…
Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we coach clients both far and wide about how they can use a Lean programme and visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures Lean is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality visual management products to sustain the initiative and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies
Further reading on the Clarity Blog:
- Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
- Assessing Goals and Auditing Strategies
- Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station – Saving Lives With Lean Thinking
- A Visual Management Definition You Can Rely On
- Kaizen Events: Clarity Consulting’s Secret Weapon
- Why Your Workplace Communication Fails (…and How To Improve It)
- Why Lean Programmes Fail
- 6 Simple Solutions to Battle Workplace Stress
- How To Make Your Process Improvements Stick Around
- How To Create A Culture Of Improvement In Your Workplace
- 6 Challenges For Effective Business Leadership
- Our Favourite Lean Quotes…
- Beat Procrastination and get Motivated
- How to improve the morale in your workplace
- Internal Communication: Is It Standing In The Way Of Your Success?