Although lean principles originated in manufacturing, they can be worthwhile in numerous other industries. Here’s a look at how professionals in the painting and coating sector can implement them.
1. Use 5S To Prepare and Maintain the Supplies and Application Area
The 5S system is a part of lean that involves scrutinizing a space, removing everything that does not belong and tidying all remaining objects. People also participate in ongoing efforts to keep the area clean and well-organized by following a standardized format.
The 5S stages are:
- Set in Order
Using 5S could pay off in keeping the materials used for painting and coating in controlled environments to facilitate high productivity. Keeping items in their proper place means a painter won’t waste time looking for what they need to begin a task. Additionally, the 5S system can bring more awareness to supply levels and any potential expiration dates. This can help managers decide when to reorder and develop a good inventory management strategy.
Ask for input from employees who regularly work with the painting and coating supplies. This will help determine how to rearrange the area to support a smooth workflow. It’s vital to train employees so that everyone knows how to keep the newly-organized area in top condition. That may mean following a checklist of steps before finishing a workday or leaving that part of a factory.
2. Eliminate Manual Processes When Possible
The practitioners of lean principles know how important it is to eliminate waste whenever possible. That may mean reducing the downtime between different processes. Alternatively, it could be investigating ways to minimize instances where highly skilled workers spend substantial time on tasks that don’t require their expertise.
Applying automation could be an accessible way to make the most of lean practices in a paint facility. One Swedish factory depends heavily on automation when painting warehouse trucks. The only manual process involves hanging parts on an overhead conveyor belt.
One of the biggest waste minimization strategies came from the washing station, where dirt and residue get cleaned from steel plates. An improved process led to a 90% reduction in wastewater.
Take the time to scrutinize all current manual processes. Then, think separately about the potential downsides of doing them by hand. For example, do people waste supplies or find it difficult to provide the level of quality required? Then, investigate specific improvement options. Even if a company cannot get rid of all manual processes, perhaps it could cut down on them.
3. Consider How Robots Could Spur Continuous Improvement
People are becoming more interested in using robots in the construction sector. That approach can help managers meet deadlines because high-tech machines produce consistent work without taking breaks. Using robots for painting can bring the same benefits, especially since the task requires tremendous precision and uniformity.
For example, powder-coating is already a labor-saving method due to its spray-based application method. Plus, it helps that the material cures immediately upon application. That means people can increase the number of pieces coated per hour. However, examining ways robots could fit into the picture may allow even greater gains.
One German powder coating company brought robots into its processes to achieve more repeatability. The rework rate was around 13% before implementing the machines. Afterward, it fell to 5% while bringing a 25%-35% savings in the overall powder used.
Some workers may initially worry that robots will replace them. However, they should have an open mindset. Supervisors should explain how using robotics can complement their work rather than eliminating it. It’s also valuable to discuss how robots could free people up to do more rewarding tasks.
4. Explore Where Lean Principles Can Help the Most
Applying lean practices in a painting and coating facility requires a dedicated effort from people at every level of an organization. Bringing lean into all operations is a resource-intensive exercise that may not be feasible at first.
A better approach is to study operations before making any changes and determine where weak points exist. How could lean target those, and what kind of improvements are you hoping to see? From there, identify and track associated metrics to verify whether the workflow tweaks have the expected results.
At one Saudi Arabian paint manufacturing company, they moved ahead with the lean approach and brought an 85% reduction in non-hazardous waste. They also decreased overtime hours by 77% at the same time.The company also shrank its changeover timeframe by 59% and saw overall productivity rise.
Identifying the most prominent opportunities for lean to cause progress takes time and dedication. However, it’s worthwhile for helping people stay motivated once the positive results start becoming apparent. Another possibility is to ask employees about which workflow steps often cause the most bottlenecks. Their perspectives could uncover opportunities to use lean that previously got overlooked.
Lean Principles Can Give Painting and Coating Efforts Bigger Payoffs
There’s no single way to apply lean practices in an industrial paint shop. Getting the best results requires examining where a business struggles the most and how the lean method could help. It’s also important to remember that as valuable as lean is, it’s not an immediate fix. Committing to making steady progress with lean over a prolonged period is a practical way to see success.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years experience writing industrial topics for the manufacturing, energy, and supply chain industries.