How to roll out a successful lean manufacturing strategy
Lean is probably the single most important concept in the manufacturing industry. The principles of lean - minimizing costs, reducing downtime, increasing productivity and eliminating waste – make complete business sense, so its no wonder that manufacturers the world over are keen to improve their lean prowess.
Investment in lean best practice can pay dividends when implemented properly, however it is not uncommon for initiatives to fail owing to poor management and planning.
Manufacturing Global takes a look at how manufacturers can roll out a successful lean strategy:
1. Focus on data
Data and analytics have eliminated the need for guesswork when it comes to rolling out a lean strategy, yet it’s surprising how many companies ignore the facts and focus instead on opinion. Of course the opinion of your people is important, however data shows real results, deficits and accurate information. Armed with this, manufacturing managers can make informed decisions about which areas of the production line need immediate attention, what is working and what needs continued improvement.
2. Encourage group-wide buy-in
From the outset, its important to include everyone in the company’s lean plan and sustain enthusiasm after the initial roll out – after all lean is a journey, not a destination. It is key that management continues to assess, evaluate and promote lean throughout the company, and rewards key players and advocates of the scheme.
3. Give people the tools they need to succeed
When you decide to undertake a lean journey, it is important to build the fence but allow employees to build the house. This can only happen if goals, objectives, expectations, roles, responsibilities and authority are properly assigned and delegated. With this in mind it is also critical that management give those on the ground the freedom they require to make positive changes themselves – a company too heavily government by rules and red tape will stifle innovation and progression. Having an open-door-policy, where employees can make suggestions is also central to success. Companies need to develop a culture of lean, rather than dictate from on high.
4. See mistakes as successes not failures
As we have noted already, lean doesn’t have an end destination; it’s about continuous improvement. As such there is a huge element of trial and improvement. Mistakes are successes as long as you learn from them as a business, rather than repeat them over and over. Help your employees achieve success by pre-identifying some ‘quick wins’ as well as provide opportunities for acceptable failure. With this in place, staff can experience wins and not fear losses or mistakes.
5. Focus on employee training
There is nothing worse than entering a new responsibility without adequate training and development under your belt. Instead, management can allow for basic training at the outset of the lean journey so that all employees understand the goals and ideals behind lean manufacturing. Then, provision of additional, advanced training to key leaders and project participants allows the team to enhance their abilities and to properly evaluate situations beyond just their past experiences.
Identification of either superior trainers within the operation or procurement of an external resource to provide this training is ideal. The training should be widely shared within the organization and not provided to just one individual. The more staff trained in lean best practice, the better the results will be.
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.