Elements of Lean Manufacturing

Essay, 2010

6 Pages, Grade: 95.00



In the current business environment, organizations attempt to find ways to improve productivity, sales, and financial health. Many of these organizations are turning to lean enterprise or lean manufacturing to help them. Lean systems link organizations’’ core competencies with its suppliers through internal and external interactions through various processes focusing on eliminating “waste through designing and improving work of activities, connections, and flows” (Flinchbaugh, n. d., p. 2, para. 2). This paper will discuss elements of lean manufacturing used by Harley Davidson Motor Cycle Company. This paper addresses several topics: various lean core concepts, which elements are required to move toward a lean environment, organizational vision, and how lean manufacturing supports an organization such s Harley Davidson’s vision.

Briefly describe at least three core elements of lean

Many elements make up lean manufacturing. Many of these concepts originate from Just-in-Time (JIT) and Toyota’s Production System (TPS). Three lean concepts are: small lot sizes, flexible workforce, and preventative maintenance. Lean systems use lot sizes that are as small as possible. With smaller lot sizes average inventory levels are lower and the lot goes through production faster than larger lots sizes. In addition, defects are found quicker in small lots versus larger lot sizes reducing waste and rework time. However, small lot sizes can create more setup time for retooling between lots.

Flexible workforces allow organizations to shift workers who are skilled at more than one task to other workstations to relieve bottlenecks in the production flow. These flexible workforces minimize the need for safety stock inventory as a buffer for workflow interruptions or delays at any one production task. In addition, flexible workforces allow product to continue in a uniform manner by filling in for those employees who are out sick or on vacation. However, in some industries the skill level of certain professions does not provide for multi-skilled or flexible workforces. Many of these industries include those in high tech computer related jobs or component building in which each task is highly specialized and requires a great deal of training.

Preventative maintenance reduces the frequency of untimely equipment failures delaying production. Lean systems run on a narrow window that any unscheduled delays can be disruptive. Organizations find that by scheduling preventative maintenance on their equipment at regular intervals, replacing parts is easier and quicker than when dealing with an equipment failure during the middle of a production run. Maintenance is often conducted based on schedules that base the trade off or risks and costs of machine failure. Maintaining equipment, even simple maintenance, goes a long way in improving equipment performance.

Identify which elements are required for your selected organization to move toward a lean environment.

Several elements are required for Harley Davidson to move toward a lean environment. Among these elements are quality at the source, standardized components and work methods, and close supplier ties. Quality at the source is an organization wide lean concept to meet customer expectations. Harley Davidson expects not only its own employees but also those of its suppliers to be their own inspectors checking for quality imperfections. Inferior products are not allowed to be passed on. Harley Davidson has set stringent quality controls for all its suppliers. Those suppliers who cannot conform to the quality standards after meeting and evaluating processes are replaced with those that can provide high quality products.

Efficiencies are gained by researching and evaluating the methods used in highly repetitive service operations and then passing the documented improvement along to all employees. Reducing components by standardizing components otherwise known as part commonality or modularity increases repeatability. Workers have fewer components to sort through. Thus with fewer components to assemble, productivity increases as workers become more acquainted with assembling the fewer components. Many of Harley Davidson’s engine, suspension, and frame components share commonality among the various trim levels.

Harley Davidson has moved toward lean manufacturing with the assistance of close supplier ties. Close supplier ties are achieved in three ways: reduce the number of suppliers, use local suppliers, and improve supplier relations. Harley Davidson has close supplier ties in all of these ways. Because of its stringent quality expectations the number of vendors and suppliers has decreased. In addition, the remaining vendors are given the majority of the business while working with Harley designers and engineers plan, design, and build for the future in a collaborative manner. Harley Davisson also favors geographically close vendors and suppliers. Developing geographically close vendors assists Harley to keep its processes lean while forcing its suppliers to deliver high quality components on time.

Describe your selected organization’s vision

Harley Davidson defines its vision “We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing extraordinary motorcycles and customer experiences. We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality” (N. A., 2009, p. 13, para. 1). Therefore, Harley Davidson seeks to build the highest quality motorcycle that meets the independent nature of its customers.


Excerpt out of 6 pages


Elements of Lean Manufacturing
University of Phoenix
ISCOM 472 Lean Enterprise
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
404 KB
Double spaced
elements, lean, manufacturing
Quote paper
James Tallant (Author), 2010, Elements of Lean Manufacturing , Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/167295


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