Lean Manufacturing & the Theory of Constraints

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  • 0:00 Eliminating Waste
  • 0:45 Defining Our Terms
  • 1:50 Building a Connection
  • 4:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

In this lesson, you'll learn about lean manufacturing and the elimination of waste in the world of business. We'll define the term and build a connection to the theory of constraints.

Eliminating Waste

Imagine that you are making a quilt. Before you begin, you have to find a pattern and then purchase the fabric. After finding the perfect fabric, you rush home and begin to cut out the pieces. Before the night is over, you start the sewing process. By the end of the week, you finish sewing the last pieces together and finally complete your quilt. However, you notice something. You have several pieces of fabric left over that may go to waste. They seem too small to use for another project; yet, you can't help but feel wasteful just throwing them all away, so you begin to wonder if you can find a way to minimize or eliminate the creation of all this wasteful fabric? In this lesson, we will learn all about the idea of eliminating waste in the business word, which is known as lean manufacturing.

Defining our Terms

Before we get too deep, let's take a brief minute to go over some important definitions. First of all, lean manufacturing refers to the concept of trying to eliminate or minimize waste or actions that utilize resources without contributing value. This may occur during several processes, such as manufacturing, distributing, designing, and those that pertain to customer service procedures. In other words, it is a way for a company to cut any activity or resource that is not needed and ultimately ends up getting wasted.

Another term that will come in handy is the theory of constraints, which has two parts. The first part is the process of finding the most crucial limiting factor, otherwise known as a constraint, that keeps a company from reaching its goals. The second part is working towards improving that constraint so that it does not remain a limiting factor. So, the theory of constraints basically involves the task of finding what is holding a company back and working on a way to make improvements so that it no longer interferes with the company's goals.

Building a Connection

So, you may be wondering how lean manufacturing is connected to the theory of constraints? The objective of the theory of constraints is to find the current constraint that keeps a company from reaching their goals. By using the lean manufacturing methodology, the company eliminates that constraint and should be able to set a pace, or timing determined by the constraint or by customers' demands, that increases productivity. Before a company can find that pace, it needs to be able to recognize the familiar constraints it might encounter.

Lean manufacturing takes a broad focus in regards to waste elimination, whereas the theory of constraints focuses on individual constraints until they are no longer considered a constraint. For example, some constraints could be not having enough materials, inventory, employees, or space. How much overtime is allowed, contracts that need to be fulfilled, and government regulations are a few others. The market itself can also be a constraint.

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