10 Lean Manufacturing Ideas for Machine Shops | Shahrukh Irani | Modern Machine Shop

Machined Workpiece

“Lean manufacturing as it is traditionally practiced is of benefit to machine shops, but the extent of its benefit is often limited. The Toyota Production System on which lean manufacturing is based was designed for assembly plants that produce automobiles by the thousands. While an assembly plant focuses on low-mix, high-volume production, a typical machine shop focuses on high-mix low-volume production. A machine shop and assembly plant cannot expect to realize the same lean benefits with the same lean tools.”

Source Modern Machine Shop

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Shahrukh and I have long disagreed on these issues and I still take exception to many of his general statements. On the other hand, I agree with most of his recommendations.

Machining is not all about High-Mix/Low Volume

While there may be many small machine shops doing high-mix/low-volume production, the bulk of machining is done in larger Automotive and Aerospace & Defense shops that don’t fit this description. Automotive machine shops remove small amounts from hundreds of thousands of aluminum castings/year with product lives on the order of 4 years; aerospace machine shops, large amounts from forgings in exotic alloys in the hundreds/year with product lives in decades.

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