The Principle of the Matter: Manufacturing Efficiency

By Gene Russell, President & CEO of Manex
Optimize productivity. Minimize inefficiency and waste. No one in manufacturing, or really any industry, would argue with these two directives. Yet, how do you accomplish both? In manufacturing, it’s done through what we refer to as Lean Manufacturing. When adopted, Lean Manufacturing principles are what will ultimately enable manufacturers to appropriately plan and position processes, materials, machines, equipment, people, manufacturing support functions, and facilities most efficiently and effectively.  Most importantly, Lean principles are customer-centric. The end game: satisfied clients and customers.

1. Identify Customer Value

The first of the five principles of Lean Manufacturing is to review each family of products and determine a specific value for each of those products’ end customers.

2. Map the Value Stream

Lean principles require that each step of the value stream for each product family is identified. Whatever does not represent value to your customers – and this applies throughout the process – should be eliminated.

3. Create Maximum Flow for the Customer

The third of the five principles of Lean determine the steps that will result in creating value in a tight sequence (otherwise known as a Just-in-Time, or JIT, inventory system). This best aligns raw material orders with production schedules; and therefore, products flow more seamlessly to the customer.

4. Establish Pull

As flow becomes optimized, you’re able to let customers “pull” their desired products and quantities as needed – at just the right time. This itself creates great value for your customers.

5. Seek Perfection

Continuous improvement is a key tenet of lean manufacturing, and #5 of Lean principles is the ultimate goal. It’s similar to the concept of lifelong learning in education. Each time you restart the process, you’ll be integrating prior learnings that will lead to, if not perfection, something pretty close.  Essentially, Lean Manufacturing principles should result in a more efficient delivery of high-quality products while simultaneously eliminating any part of the production process that creates waste. They should apply to all aspects of manufacturing – cross-functionally — throughout the organization.  
About the Author: As Manex President and CEO, Gene Russell is a driving force behind the firm’s successful track record in helping California manufacturing companies grow and thrive. He has held three successful CEO positions over a 20-year period for businesses that included early-stage, private equity, and non-profit. He has served as senior leadership for global Fortune 100 and iconic consumer-branded companies. Prior to Manex, Russell led a turnaround at a California midsized manufacturer. His experience in global sourcing and manufacturing over several decades led him to Manex where he brings real-world experiences, and as a result, a personal passion to restore and invigorate domestic USA-based manufacturing. He can be reached at