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Shopping for Lean Manufacturing Solutions? Pro Tips Before Investing

Updated: Aug 14

lean manufacturing

Bright AM

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Lean manufacturing solutions can help your manufacturing business win at the razor-thin margins game. You already know that, of course, because you weathered the pandemic disruption and lived to tell the tale. Now, you’re dusting off production and looking for solutions that will enable you to deliver the value that your customers expect while keeping teams flexible. Both goals require continuous improvement. You can’t do it without the right Lean manufacturing solution, so here’s what you need to know before making your big investment.

Why Lean Manufacturing Is Essential

Lean is an essential part of operating an Additive Manufacturing production line in the digital transformation era. It focuses on reducing costs and maximizing efficiency. Additive Manufacturers can use Lean principles to delve into areas of inefficiency—think bottlenecks in production, human error, or blind spots in planning.

As raw materials get more expensive and traditional manufacturing methods squeeze out every last bit of productivity possible, companies need creative solutions. Lean introduces a change in company operations, but to take advantage, companies need data. But that data can’t sit in warehouses or remain siloed across departments—it must flow.

Implementing Lean requires a change in company culture, as well as a technology solution that can fully support the transformation. When you’re shopping for your Lean manufacturing solution, there are non-negotiable features that it must have to ensure smooth production.

Lean: A basic shopper’s guide

You need a solution that enables quick pivots based on changing data, while always being on the lookout for waste—a solution built specifically for Additive Manufacturing’s unique needs.

Additive Manufacturers need software designed to account for the field’s unique materials and level of customization. It should improve workflow and have a communication system that can handle changes or disruptions, even customer shifts.

When you’re shopping for a solution to implement Lean manufacturing, your best option should do the following.

Provide advance planning and scheduling

The solution must have a user-friendly dashboard and customizable features designed to balance efficiency, maximize output while reducing bottlenecks, sync supply with demand, and provide maximum visibility. That’s a tall order, but the right software integrates all departments into a single source of planning. It should provide both a bird’s-eye view of the production line and value map, while offering detailed looks at whatever section you need.

Level up communication

A universal communications hub ensures that everything from work orders and specifications to quality control comes from a single place. It gets everyone on board with Lean operations, so there is no departmental separation and no missing data. It ensures a clean record of communication and improves specifications and workflow.

Ensure advanced quality control

Solutions that remove human error from the equation produce reliable and complete reporting. Even better, enforceable risk analysis modules ensure compliance even in demanding production workflows. This helps reduce the time that companies spend scrambling for quality control audits and ensures that all data is accessible. Advanced quality control is a powerful feature necessary for production.

The most important step: Data truth

The essential component of your Lean solution is establishing a single source of data truth. There is nothing more vital to the new production method’s success than this single principle.

You’ll spot trends immediately

Waste, downtime, bottlenecks, quality issues—all these things can derail a production line. Data fragmentation prevents access to insights that can signal a problem. For example, a simple change in a work order could lead to incorrect specifications and a longer-than-expected turnaround time. That sort of delay can cost customers in Industry 4.0.

Data-based decision-making improves response time

Consistent and efficient response time delivers real value to customers. The software facilitates data-driven decision-making based on how customers interact with the company itself, as well as outside predictions and forecasts from all aspects of the production pathway. A company loses the rigidity that prevents innovation and begins to sync in real time with customer needs.

Consistent, quality data ensures compliance from start to finish

One of the most significant challenges that Additive Manufacturing has is maintaining quality standards. Compliance has gone global, and regulations can derail your business, cause unnecessary downtime, and reduce overall efficiency. That’s a Lean disaster. A good software solution should deliver not only data but also insight.

Get industry-leading insights

America Makes is the nation’s leading collaborative partner in Additive Manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP) technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. America Makes helps innovate and accelerate AM/3DP to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. It collaborates with its members to help advance Additive Manufacturing technology development, adoption, commercialization, and education. By joining, you can leverage resources and knowledge to make informed business decisions on new technologies, processes, and materials to compete regionally, nationally and globally.

America Makes also has a digital storefront where members can access exclusive information, project data, and intellectual capital assets, including project deliverables and artifacts, to determine if their services match any of the requirements. Want to join America Makes? Be sure to mention that Throughput | Bluestreak | Bright AM sent you!

Finding the right solution

A Lean manufacturing solution should enable your workflow from start to finish—no more fragmented data sources or unworkable dashboards. Your manufacturing solution should have a customizable dashboard with exactly the information that you need to facilitate efficiency, reduce waste, and above all, ensure that you can respond to changing customer needs with grace.

Bluestreak | Bright AM’s solution is designed specifically for the unique challenges of Additive Manufacturing. It offers intelligent modules that work with data to establish your production pathway as an efficient, continuously improving system that can weather disruption. It’s time to see what the right Lean manufacturing solution can do for your bottom line.

When your quality control process needs improvement, you’re wasting time and money. You are also putting future business at risk, and we know how small of an industry this can be. Dissatisfied customers tend to spread the word to their colleagues, which can hurt future sales. Recognize the warning signs and take action today by contacting Bluestreak | Bright AM.

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