About the cover: Working with a value stream map, Institute engineers identify those activities that add value to the product.

Lean Manufacturing

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) offers engineering services to help transform client organizations into lean enterprises. Using the lean-manufacturing approach, experienced SwRI engineers:
  • Systematically identify and classify waste, or nonvalue-added, activities

  • Apply tools and methods that enable client personnel to remove waste

  • Guide the cultural evolution within the client's organization necessary to achieve continuous improvement

In establishing a lean-manufacturing facility, SwRI staff members use proven tools that include:

  • Workplace organization, including sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain
  • One-piece flow, i.e., work cells
  • Standardized work
  • Kanban / pull systems
  • Visual management and operations
  • Facility layout
  • Quick changeover and setup

Typical application areas include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Administration
  • Service
  • Repair

Institute staff work closely with manufacturers to increase their competitiveness through process improvements. SwRI engineers assisted a medical kit manufacturer in moving from a time-consuming batch process to a more efficient one-piece flow.

As part of a nationwide effort to implement lean processes in the nation's Air Logistics Centers, SwRI staff members are improving the work flow in this U.S. Air Force F-15 avionics repair facility, significantly reducing the aircraft's downtime.

SwRI Engineers use the lean-manufacturing concept to improve product flow, reduce manufacturing waste, and increase employee productivity.

SwRI engineers conduct rapid improvement events, focusing on those areas in a manufacturing stream that allow quick and measurable impacts. Typical results include productivity increases of 25 percent, work-in-process reductions of 75 percent, inventory level reductions of 50 percent, and floor space reductions of 50 percent.

Using the lean-transition process, the client maximizes resource utilization, eliminates waste, and increases productivity.

This brochure was published in July 2000. For more information about manufacturing systems, contact Bill Rafferty, Manager, Process Improvement Engineering, Automation and Data Systems Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, (210) 522-5865, Fax (210) 522-5885.

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