Going LEAN: The Benefits and How to Profit From Your Unused Machinery

The idea of LEAN manufacturing is to use best practices to improve your production methods to produce higher quality products at much lower costs. Production is improved by removing the different types of waste that muddle production and focus on what is of value to the consumer. Many companies are adopting LEAN production techniques and cleaning house to improve efficiency and profitability. 

In cleaning house, many manufacturing machines and industrial equipment will not make the cut. This equipment does not have to be thrown away, though. Auctioning and selling machines when engaging in LEAN can be a profitable way to streamline your industry. 

First of all, what is LEAN manufacturing? 

Lean manufacturing, often referred to simply as ‘LEAN, is the process of reducing waste in manufacturing without lowering productivity. It takes into account the perspective of the consumer by noting what has “value” – any process of action the consumer is willing to pay for – and labeling anything that does not fit into the value category as “waste” and eliminating it. According to research conducted by the Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC), 60% of all production activities in a typical manufacturing operation are waste. These activities add no value for the customer.

There are three parts to LEAN: Muda, Muri, and Mura. Muda is the overall waste that needs to be eliminated. It is the Japanese word meaning, “futility; uselessness; wastefulness”. Muri is waste through overburdening. It is the Japanese word meaning, “unreasonableness; impossible; beyond one's power; too difficult; by force; perforce; forcibly; compulsorily; excessiveness; immoderation". And the third component is Mura, which is waste resulting from uneven work loads. It is the Japanese word meaning "unevenness; irregularity; lack of uniformity; inequality". Together, these three terms sum up the three types of waste that are of no value to the consumer and, therefore, drag down profits. 

Principles of LEAN manufacturing 

LEAN does not have to be complicated. In their book, ‘LEAN Thinking: The Principles of LEAN Manufacturing’, authors James J. Womack and Daniel T. Jones narrow down the principles of LEAN to five key components. 

 1. Value 

Determining the value a consumer puts on a product is vital to determining how much money can be charged for a product or service. Focus on what the consumer is willing to spend on certain products, features, and services and eliminate what they are not willing to spend money on. Thus, the product is created with the consumer’s satisfaction in mind and unnecessary features are cut which saves money and grows profits. 

 2. The value stream 

The value stream is the entire product’s life-cycle from the acquisition of the original raw materials used to create the product to the consumer’s cost of utilizing and ultimately disposing of the product. It is important to pay close attention to the value stream to determine an accurate understanding of the waste involved in the lifecycle of a product.

3. Flow 

Flow is the speed and rhythm at which the value stream moves. An important factor in reducing waste is to always keep the value chain moving forward. If it stops moving, waste is created. A strategically planned flow across the value stream will reduce waste and bump up value to the consumer. 

4. Pull 

The idea of “pull” manufacturing is that nothing gets made until a consumer orders it. This helps avoid build-up of inventory and ensure a speedier flow. Nothing gets “pushed” through the manufacturing process simply for the sake of forecasting. The challenge of using the pull method of production is the need for extreme flexibility and a short time period for design, production, and delivery of the product. 

5. Perfection 

Going LEAN is synonymous with going for perfection. The whole point it to systematically eliminate the causes of poor quality from production to move closer and closer to perfection. Pursuing perfection is mandatory for a company that wants to utilize LEAN manufacturing. 

How to begin the switch to LEAN manufacturing? 

Running a LEAN production line is an ongoing process of minimization, consumer feedback, and optimization. Don’t be overwhelmed, though. There is an easy way to start your journey into the LEAN life. Step one is 5S Seiri which is a practical tool used to organize the workplace under the LEAN standards. ‘Seiri’ is Japanese for ‘sort, clear, classify’. Basically, you need to declutter the workspace to begin the elimination of muda, muri, and mura. 

An easy way to conduct 5S Seiri is to have your whole team go through the workspace and throw away useless excess, collect unneeded items for resale, and label unneeded large pieces for removal and resale. More often than not, equipment and general clutter will sit around a workspace for years without being given a second thought. Taking the time to comb through your space and clearly label what needs to go and then quickly getting rid of it will jumpstart your organization’s LEAN capabilities. 

Sell the machines that are holding you back from LEAN production 

Now that you’ve gotten a firm grasp on what LEAN operations, their benefits, and know the first steps you can take to implements LEAN production – what to do with all of the items you do not need but are too costly to throw away? That’s where the auction industry can step in to help your team clear out your work space and make money from the sales of your larger industrial equipment and machinery. 

Selling equipment does not have to be a painful process. There are several helpful online platforms where machines can easily be listed online and will instantly be connected to networks of thousands of buyers. If you are new to the process of online industrial sales, there are specialists who can walk you through the entire process of the sale. With technology constantly advancing, it is easier than ever to utilize LEAN practices in the workplace.