June 20, 2024

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How is technology relevant to the role of lean manufacturer?

8 min read
lean manufacturer

Technology has made a huge impact on all our lives and transformed many industries recently. This is easy to see in entertainment, for example, where people now use streaming tech and modern mobile devices to listen to their favorite bands.

Tech is also a key part of the whole business sector now and this has seen it transform many individual sectors within business. Manufacturing is a classic example of this and most companies that manufacture items have incorporated more tech over recent times. This could be anything from computer systems for stock management purposes to robotic machinery on the production line.

Lean manufacturing is a hot topic in this business sector and this has seen the role of lean manufacturer grow in recent years. But what is this job, how do you get into it, and how does tech play a part in this role?

What does a lean manufacturer do? 

To understand this role, you first have to get up to speed with what lean manufacturing is for business. In simple terms, lean manufacturing is all about reducing waste, boosting operational efficiency, and providing better value to customers via streamlining all parts of the manufacturing process. The lean manufacturer role, therefore, involves collecting data, helping to review a company’s processes, and making useful recommendations/changes.

How do you get into a lean manufacturing role? 

Education is crucial here and studying on the right program first is key. The lean manufacturing master’s degree from Kettering University Online is one of the most popular around and a superb example of how the right education can be handy.

Kettering University Online master’s course was developed in conjunction with G.M. and covers all the essential topics needed to succeed in this key business role. By completing a course such as this, you will not only have the qualifications behind you to work as a lean manufacturer, but will also have the relevant skills to thrive in a professional setting.

This is important if you plan to move into this field of work and have aspirations to forge a successful career in it. Just as the benefits of a Certificate III in Childcare are obvious to those wanting to look after kids, the advantages of getting the right credentials for lean manufacturing are also clear.

What types of lean manufacturing roles are open to you post-graduation? 

Although the role of lean manufacturer is one that many move into, there are also others you could consider. Many of these involve the same work but are at a higher level or focused on certain areas within a company.

Quality management is a great example and comes with an average salary of around $97,300. This job usually involves putting inspection and testing processes in place to ensure that any items produced adhere to the company quality standards. It can also see you preparing reports and carrying out evaluation methods in terms of product quality.

Supply chain vice president is another popular role in lean manufacturing and sees you responsible for all aspects of a business’s supply chain. With an average salary of $97,400, it also involves the planning and organization of a company’s supply chain policies/initiatives.

At an even more senior level, lean/continuous improvement manager is one option. This comes with an average salary of $103,200 and sees you in charge of driving continued improvements across the company in terms of lean manufacturing. Product development managers are also a good job to consider and come with an average salary of $110,700. As the name implies, these key members of staff are in charge of developing the latest products for a company in a way that is efficient and not wasteful.

Why is technology so important for working in lean manufacturing jobs? 

We have already noted how important technology is in general and it is certainly something that people working in lean manufacturing will come across daily. Due to this, it is clear to see why tech plays such a huge part in this career path and why being tech-savvy is important for lean manufacturers.

In simple terms, the prevalence of technology within modern manufacturing businesses means that you must be confident of working with tech to succeed. If you cannot do this, you will not be able to handle your job properly. Lean manufacturing also involves working with specific tools/platforms in order to help identify waste and streamline efficiency. If you do not know about this tech, you will struggle to work as a lean manufacturer in the business.

What kind of technology is commonly seen in these roles? 

Although lean manufacturing roles could see you working with a range of technologies and in-house systems, there are some industry-standard approaches to consider that involve using the latest tech. The two that you hear mentioned most are Lean and Six Sigma.

Lean is simply the concept of lean manufacturing put into practice in a professional setting. This could be done by using a range of different tech tools – from Excel spreadsheets for data collection/analysis to systems for collecting system data or platforms that enable you to create value stream maps.

The original Six Sigma was developed in 1986 by engineer Bill Smith while he was working at Motorola. It is a set of processes that use tech-heavy statistical tools to help businesses improve their operational workflow. The importance of Six Sigma for lean production is huge and this means that most courses on this subject will include a module on it. This helps you to become familiar with it and get used to using it for maintaining control/maximizing efficiency in production.

Lean Six Sigma plays a major role in modern manufacturing 

But what about Lean Six Sigma? As you would expect, this takes the original Six Sigma processes and integrates them with lean manufacturing ideas. This is a data-driven, fact-based approach that prizes the prevention of defects in manufacturing. It often uses the latest statistical software to collect key data and data modeling platforms to drive experiment design/hypothesis testing.

This is not only to improve a company’s bottom line but also driving up customer satisfaction and cut down on waste. Lean Six Sigma can also help to generate better standardization of workflow in manufacturing, which is then able to develop a greater competitive advantage.

As all this shows, Lean Six Sigma (and the tools it uses) can be very important for any business in manufacturing to know about. You will not be able to use it properly though without knowing how to operate the technology, tools, and software it encompasses.

Smart technology and cyber-physical systems could prove key 

Although the tech involved in lean manufacturing and Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma is nothing new now, there might be some fresh developments set to take the manufacturing world by storm.

Smart technology within a manufacturing setting is certainly one that people are talking about and this could make smart tech something that all those working as a lean manufacturer should know about. As this type of tech has become a central part of our home lives lately, the increased data and transparency it brings to lean manufacturing could prove a hit.

Cyber-physical systems are also a future development tech that lean manufacturers might need to know about. This is a closed-loop system that is the result of physical process data that is sensor-based, combined with cyber data/autonomous processing. This effectively results in three ways for data to be collected – human to machine, machine to machine, and data acquisition/processing.

Cloud-based systems such as this could improve the collection of data from a production network and give lean manufacturers more data to improve processes. Although these advances might seem a way off as yet, we may not have to wait too long to see them. Tech moves at such a fast pace now (especially in business and lean manufacturing) that it would be no surprise to see them fairly soon.

General knowledge of tech is also vital 

When looking at how important technology is to this role, it is easy to focus on the specific tools or packages you might use only within lean manufacturing. While this is important, it is also essential for any lean manufacturer to possess excellent general digital skills.

But why is this so crucial? To begin with, it means that you can communicate your insights or thoughts on business processes effectively to colleagues. If you can’t use email or video conferencing software, for example, it gets tough to let senior management know what your latest findings are on the production process! If you cannot use common software for creating presentations, it also makes it tough to present your findings in person to colleagues in the most professional way.

As all this shows, working in the role of lean manufacturer sees you needing an excellent basic knowledge of common business tech plus knowledge of more dedicated tech that you use for specific tasks in your job.

Excellent knowledge of technology helps others listen 

Lean manufacturing uses the latest technology to not only detect where processes can be streamlined but also to make these changes happen. Robotics on the production line have already been mentioned, and this shows how more tech is being used to drive efficiency now in business.

As a result, working in the role of lean manufacturer involves using the latest tech and showing how it can improve a business’s performance at times. It gets hard to make people listen though if your own tech skills are poor or you don’t seem competent with common business technology. This could in turn see people resistant to the changes you recommend that involve tech or wrongly believe that you are not good at your job. For these reasons, technology really does play a big role in a lean manufacturing job and you must get up to speed with it.

What is the future for tech and lean manufacturing roles? 

Although it is always hard to look into the future and make firm predictions, it gets a little easier for both technology and lean manufacturing job prospects.

In terms of technology, it seems pretty clear that it will continue to play an increasingly major role in not only our daily lives but also business. With developments such as the metaverse, VR and AR all making an impact, it seems that the only way is up for technology overall. Due to this, workers need to have good digital skills and specific tech knowledge where needed.

But how does the future look for a role such as lean manufacturer and the lean manufacturing recruitment sector in general? As tech becomes more integrated into organizations and it gets even more important to operate efficiently, it seems likely that the demand for this role will also continue to rise.

Modern business owners know just how valuable staff with lean manufacturing skills are and more should look to employ them in the future. This, of course, is great news for people with these skills because it sees them fully qualified to move into an in-demand career.

Tech plays a vital role in a lean manufacturer position 

In the same way, as technology plays an important role in most jobs now, it is very important for lean manufacturers. Without being able to operate specific industry tools or tech in their work, lean manufacturers will be unable to perform their job properly. This is because they will not be able to use the relevant technologies to collect data, monitor processes, or make sensible changes.

It is also key for people in this field to have a good general understanding of common business technology. This will help them communicate with staff in a company and operate in the most effective way personally. If you are thinking of working in this sector, enrolling on a course that teaches you all you need to know is a great idea.

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