Back in June of 2013 we introduced the concept of “Smart-Pull in Lean Manufacturing” to this blog, Manufacturing Transformation. Of course, this topic has existed for quite some time before, but as is the case with new concepts, the technology had not quite caught up with the concept.
This notion is actually quite radical if you are a Lean “purist.” Adding an IT infrastructure to your Lean operations could be argued as contrary to removing waste from operations. But, the power of adding intelligence into a process such that inventory replenishment can be automatically triggered – at just the right time and place – does appear to be raising interest with manufacturers.
As was referenced in James Mok’s earlier article, this new model of “Smart-Pull” describes a mechanism that individuals can transform an institution through their interactions with knowledge flows. While this is in accordance with Lean thinking, the method is beyond the scope of any current literature on Lean methodology. In the context of manufacturing operations, this means all resources including operators, engineers, machines, suppliers, materials, repair parts and others are now given a new level of capability to self-organize and self-improve.
Fast forward to today, nearly two years later, and we have a case study to help validate this concept, and the benefits that can truly be made possible with such an approach.
Ebara, a leading Japanese manufacturer of pumps and fluid machinery, has implemented a Dassault Systèmes’ Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solution to help improve inventory accuracy and visibility. The company will use the solution to employ Smart-Pull production processes to reduce lead times and inventory while improving efficiency.
Their MOM solution will unify a sequence of disparate inventory, production and delivery processes, initially at Ebara’s Fujisawa plant in Japan, with the aim of improving visibility and control of its production processes.
Ebara is benefiting from a wide range of Pull type production processes, from production, supplier and inbound order, to inventory and outbound. The solution also provides real-time visibility to inventory management, with links to enterprise resource planning (ERP), and added mobility access and visibility to production sites using handheld devices.
If you liked this article, here are other resources and articles that might be of interest:
- Complete success story: Ebara Pulls Ahead.
- White paper on this topic: “Unleash the Power of Pull for Smart, Speedy and Slim Operations.”
- Related blog post: The Power of Pull for Manufacturers
- Related blog post: 5 Ways to use Technology to Run a More Productive Warehouse
- Related blog post: How Well Does Your Packaging Keep up With Your Marketing?