Lean Manufacturing in the Medical Industry

Lean manufacturing has many benefits including reduced redundancy, increased output and capital savings. It was first pioneered by a Japanese automaker, before making its way to the automotive industry in the United States. Therefore, companies who use the lean manufacturing methods gain a competitive advantage by reducing time, improving quality, and reducing development time.

Using the lean manufacturing method, companies increase productivity and have the ability to hire more workers. It also allows them to keep people on during hard times. Instead of laying workers off, companies train them and find new ways to reduce waste and eliminate cost. They do this by sticking to the principles outlined below:

  • Eliminate the Excess

With this method, manufacturers reduce or eliminate seven types of waste found in manufacturing including: excess production, excess motion, excess inventory, production of defects, excess wait time, unnecessary transportation, and over-processing.

  • Continuous Improvement

Without improvement, progress would be impossible. Companies implementing lean manufacturing continue to make adjustments in their processes to improve performance and results at all levels. There is a constant awareness and seeking of ways to improve their process, and settling for subpar is not acceptable.

  • Appreciating Staff

Employees are the most valuable resource a company has, and most businesses couldn’t succeed without them. Making workers feel respected and valued through communication and listening to their ideas helps them develop a sense of worth and pride in their work. When they feel valued, they contribute more and work harder.

  • Steady Production

Maintaining a steady workload each day has many benefits. Instead of waiting to get orders, or producing solely on forecast, manufacturers implementing lean manufacturing produce based on the combination of order history and the projected forecast of needed products.

  • Just In Time Production

With this idea, manufacturers build what is required, when it is required, and in the quantity required. This works in conjunction with steady production and a pull system. A pull system is controlling the flow of resources in the production process by replacing only what has been consumed.

  • Quality Built In

Focusing on making each component of the product with the highest quality will reduce mistakes, and improve overall product quality. The company focuses on making the product right the first time, every time. This also has a side benefit of stressing the value of each employee involved in the process.

Recently, this manufacturing style has moved into the medical industry primarily due to the Affordable Care Act. With many in the medical device industry moving their manufacturing out of the country due to the 2.3 percent device tax that accompanies the ACA, national manufacturers are looking to keep that business in the U.S. Because of this, they are finding better ways to manufacture products at a faster rate and a lower cost by investing in new machining technologies.

For instance, instead of cutting sutures in half by hand with scissors, one company invested in a wire-cutting machine that could do the work faster and more precisely. If more companies invested in machining technologies, they could develop a lean manufacturing method to help them gain an edge over their competitors and keep the medical device manufacturing industry rooted in the United States.

The machines sold by Brooks Associates can help companies develop their own lean manufacturing method. They sell a variety of machines for every type of manufacturing work, and will work with customers to find the right fit for their project.