Continuous Lean Development

by Andrew Guytingco on January 23, 2017

By principle, Lean Manufacturing is never fixed; it is continuously improving and developing through the creativity of its users.

For example, the following diagram illustrates a Lean production environment who has already implemented the Ecoflex system for its material handling solution, creating increased productivity and efficiency at the line side. However, even still, small mudas remain; (1) muda of waiting for parts to arrive and transportation using the small train. Also (2) motion in determining and selecting parts from the racks, and inventory being stored on the line side. 


Source: Vision-Lean

Creating an advanced Lean solution with Ecoflex

Once a JIT system has been implemented and a pull system utilized, lean manufacturing can evolve further into an advanced system with Ecoflex used as a catalyst. For example, material staging stations have been moved to the immediate vicinity of the line side and set up in the preparation zone where they are “kitted” - decanted from numerous containers into a single point of use.

The principle of this development is to improve the function of the conventional lean shop stocks by (1) introducing a sequence preparation zone: a local material handler prepares each “kit” for each model which is then delivered on line by hand pushed mobile carts with Ecoflex


Source: Vision-Lean

The end result is a reduction of the residual mudas of waiting, motion and inventory to their simplest form by sequenced parts and delivering kits directly to the line. The operator (2) only has to turn around, pick the kit and assemble it without having to manage a variety of parts.

This method further improves the level of added value at the workstation, by reducing the muda of repair/rejects which could be generated by picking the wrong part.

Although the manpower to sort the parts at (1) may increase the logistic time due to the additional preparation, the cost of this logistics load is compensated by the additional line productivity gains:

  1.  Additional space at the line side.
  2. Reduction of other mudas, especially those of transport and inventory: elimination of motorized trains through use of the manual Ecoflex carts, together with simple and compact line side racks, which could be equipped with an automatic return of empty bins.
  3. Reduction of the muda of repair/rejects from accidental part picking.


IPS Material Handling Inc was established in 2006 and specializes in custom material handling solutions for Lean Manufacturing. Our Ecoflex products, a modular pipe and joint system, are used to create custom flow racks, material handling carts, work stations and more.


For more information, to request a quote or to set up an in-house assessment, please contact us.