Lean Manufacturing in Cleanroom Operations


What is Lean?

Lean is a waste elimination methodology that maximizes customer value while minimizing or eliminating waste. Focused on creating more value for the end customer, Lean can be implemented in any business production or business process. A highly relevant continuous improvement methodology in the cleanroom industry, Lean focuses on creating high performance production processes. Cleanrooms are required for some of the strictest standards of cleanliness, where a lack of cleanliness can interrupt a production operation, therefore, Lean is the perfect methodology for identifying and eliminating waste in the cleanroom environment. The lean methodology can be used in cleanroom environments to identify and propose waste elimination techniques that will, in the end, enhance the cleanliness of the clean room environment, delivering increased value to the customers.

How can Lean Manufacturing help your clean room environment operate at maximum performance?

A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously enhance their production processes and deliver beyond customer expectation. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. This process is ever necessary in the cleanroom industry and any organization that utilizes cleanroom environments should attain general competence in lean methodology to understand best practices for waste elimination and optimization of defects.

Lean, eliminates waste across the value stream, rather than in isolated areas where improvements have been deemed necessary. Enabling your organization with Lean methodology, can deliver many benefits to your cleanroom production environment:

  • Decrease the amount of human effort to achieve the same results
  • Use less space for the production
  • Deliver cost efficiencies to the operating environment
  • Expedite the production process, making more products in less time
  • Eliminate defects in your total production process and value stream

Lean manufacturing is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value added activities) through continuous improvement to allow product flow at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection. Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating non-value added activities from your company’s processes while streamlining value-added activities. A people-oriented approach that empowers a team to take action to achieve improvements, lean is the best way to effectively use a company’s most valuable resource – its people – to reduce waste in cleanroom manufacturing environments.

The term “lean” was coined to describe Toyota’s business during the late 1980s by a research team headed by Jim Womack, Ph.D., at MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program.

Cleanroom lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating eight specific major wastes:

The Eight Wastes of Lean Manufacturing
  • Transport
    • Description: unnecessary movement of materials
    • Example: sending information packs rather than using e-mail
    • Costs include: labour, fuel and increased risk of delay
  • Intellect
    • Description: failing to utilize the talents of your colleagues
    • Example: not empowering individuals at work
    • Costs include: frustration, boredom, stress and increased staff turnover
  •  Motion
    • Description: unnecessary movement of people
    • Example: double keying onto multiple databases or travel between offices
    • Costs include: time and cost to complete the activity, risk of error
  • Waiting
    • Description: delays between one work step finishing and another starting
    • Example: waiting for approvals and clarification
    • Costs include: lost time and customer attrition
  • Over-processing
    • Description: adding more to a service than a customer is willing to pay for
    • Example: multiple repeat quality checking
    • Costs include: lost capacity that could have been used elsewhere
  • Over-production
    • Description: providing more than is immediately needed
    • Example: hiring people for roles that don’t exist
    • Costs include: increased processing time
  • Defects
    • Description: errors caused by the process
    • Example: issuing checks to correct mis-payments
    • Costs include: rework and testing
  • Stock
    • Description: items in excess of customer need
    • Example: excess IT capacity
    • Costs include: write offs and complexity