Why Should You Use Low-Code Platform for Lean Manufacturing?


Illustration: © IoT For All

Lean manufacturing seeks to eliminate or minimize waste and make the production process more efficient. The goal is to streamline production operations while improving customer satisfaction. To deliver on this goal, lean manufacturing optimizes the organization’s production process by adopting a laser focus on the customer. Overall, lean manufacturing is all about removing things that do not add value, thus delivering a product based on customers’ needs and expectations. Using a low-code platform with manufacturing can aid manufacturers in solving an array of issues.

Several studies suggest that production processes in operations only add value 5 percent of the time while the other 95 percent are waste. Waste in the production process refers to any operation that does not add value and is irrelevant to the customer. This includes transport, motion, inventory, over-processing, waiting, defects, and over-production. This is where lean manufacturing becomes critical and low-code software can aid in the process.

Benefits of Lean Manufacturing

The philosophy of lean manufacturing was developed by Toyota Production System, one of the biggest and most successful automobile manufacturers. Toyota pioneered lean manufacturing principles, including just-in-time manufacturing marked by low inventory levels, high levels of automation supervised by a few human workers to control the quality of the product (called jidoka), and reduction of downtime. Let’s take a look at a few specific benefits of lean manufacturing.

#1: Improvement in Customer Service

Adding value for the customer is the first principle of lean manufacturing. It focuses on what customers need or want and when they want it. A company can only be successful if its customers are satisfied. As long as the company provides customers with the products they need at the right time, they will keep returning, and the business will thrive.

#2: Ease of Management

One of the most significant benefits of lean manufacturing is the reduction of human resources. It focuses on achieving more with fewer people. The decrease in the workforce means there are fewer people to manage. This means that a single operator can easily manage many types of equipment. Lean manufacturing is a bottom-up approach where workers try to improve their performance.

#3: Improvement in Quality and Reduction of Defects

Reducing waste and additional costs increase product value and thus quality. Any defects in quality manufacturing are also eliminated easily.

#4: Waste Minimization

One of the essential principles of lean manufacturing is waste minimization. Reduction of waste improves the quality and speed of the production process while increasing value for the customer.

#5: Financial Savings

The reduction in waste and defects brings high financial benefits for manufacturers. The money saved can be used for quality improvement and meeting customers’ needs.

#6: Saving Supply Inventory

With higher quality materials and fewer defects, supply inventory during the production process is saved. This means saving up supply materials during the process.

What Is Low-Code Software?

The lean manufacturing approach focuses on waste reduction and optimization of the production process. To effectively implement a lean manufacturing approach, manufacturers have to minimize the use of materials and reduce any production defects. To accomplish this, manufacturers need to effectively track all aspects of the production process, ie, the points of highest scrap production, highest usage of materials and quality problems, etc. Manufacturers must have faster, easier ways for employees to collect data and monitor systems on the production floor or as part of the quality management process. Traditional paper forms just don’t offer the speed, accuracy, and rich data collection modern manufacturers require.

The solution is low-code/no-code software that helps manufacturers digitize the collection of data to closely track these aspects of the production process. Low-code allows employees who cannot code apps, or “citizen developers,” to quickly develop powerful apps that can track the manufacturing processes (like inventory, inspections, etc.). This allows manufacturers to adopt lean manufacturing practices at a much lower price without hiring experienced developers. In case of any market changes, citizen developers can easily upgrade the software. With low-code/no-code solutions, manufacturers can build quality apps that easily collect data on any mobile device. This allows manufacturing teams to quickly implement lean manufacturing practices more quickly, affordably, and easily.

Low-Code for Lean Manufacturing

Here are a few ways in which low-code furthers lean manufacturing.

More Agility and Greater Automation

As discussed above, quick and efficient delivery is one of the main principles of lean manufacturing. It focuses on delivering products to the customers quickly and easily without any barriers. With low-code/no-code software, manufacturers can create mobile-friendly applications almost ten times faster than with traditional app development techniques. Unlike apps developed the traditional way, low-code/no-code allows for easy and quick changes or updates. Low-code/no-code allows for automation of different processes, including job assignments, user instructions, work instructions, etc. This streamlines the entire production process, allowing managers stay-at-the-top of the incoming, completed, and delayed tasks.

Implementing Smart Factories

With the help of low-code platforms, manufacturers get access to real-time data that reflects the machine output, thus gaining greater visibility and productivity. This real-time data is also helpful in pre-empting maintenance needs, which normally require a large downtime.

Like other industries, the manufacturing sector is rapidly evolving to catch up with the incoming wave of digital transformation. The manufacturing sector is entering Industry 4.0 (smart factories) that is powered by technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, advanced analytics, etc. Low-code/no-code platforms can help in implementing smart factories by reducing data silos by integrating data from different systems into a single application, predicting real-time customer demands even at the most precarious times, and improving by interweaving all the systems and processes together.

Since the organizations get real-time signals of what’s happening on the production floor, they are in a much better place with regard to improving the efficiency of the entire process. For instance, the 5S audit app, built on low-code software, allows for a quick and efficient visual management of the working facility. 5S helps eliminate any unnecessary items, movement, inventory, and time daily. This improves the efficiency and safety of workers. Such integration of systems also helps the workers who now have to manage fewer interfaces while switching between systems.

Continuous Development

Disorganized production processes can create chaos on the production floor. As discussed above, low-code platforms can help develop apps that provide greater visibility to the manufacturer. This allows manufacturers to track the time taken in each segment of the process and understand the best practices associated with it. Then, manufacturers can integrate the best practices into their workflows to ensure that their workers are working to a minimum working standard. Low-code apps can be customized to track workers’ activities, location, and productivity. With such access to multiple data points, both workers and managers work together to maximize their performance and productivity, which is one of the key aspects of lean manufacturing.

The Low-Code Approach

Low-code/no-code helps manufacturers implement a lean manufacturing approach and advance towards Industry 4.0 revolution. The goal is to streamline production operations while improving customer satisfaction. To effectively implement a lean manufacturing approach, manufacturers could benefit from utilizing low-code/no-code software to digitize their collection of data and closely track the production process.

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