The Lean Approach to Medical Manufacturing

The Lean Approach to Medical Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing Medical Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing might have emerged from the automotive space, but its teachings stretch across all manufacturing industries. Implementation of lean thinking might seem more difficult in your business, but every production line can benefit one way or another.

Medical Manufacturing is not like most other manufacturing industries. Products created on medical manufacturing shop floors can literally mean life or death if something goes wrong. This importance means that regulators have to keep a tight leash on manufacturers, and rightly so. This leaves manufacturers having to introduce paperwork and systems that are difficult to manage, slow down production, and create a whole host of Wastes (Muda).

At the dawn of digital manufacturing, many medical manufacturers made the decision to adopt software systems that manage some (not all) of these issues, but as we move further and further into the future, these systems are becoming increasingly outdated and slow. 

So how can production processes become lean, when traceability, compliance, and quality assurance is so vital?

Paper was invented almost 2,000 years ago; there’s no question it had its place in manufacturing – but there are so many more lean tools available that provide a better way than drowning in paperwork. By digitizing how you trace each product as it moves through your production line, you can start to streamline your processes and optimize your resources – even by integrating standardized barcode scanners, you can make processing codes much faster than previously.

But digitizing doesn’t just mean swapping your paper-based tables for forms and calling it a day – it’s about making the most of the digital medium.

By using digital tracking to it’s fullest, you can instantly give anyone who needs it access to that information, again further streamlining your processes. Being able to track every detail of a products manufacturing cycle might help speed up your certification process, but to fully implement lean there’s a lot more you could be doing.

Get it "Right First Time"

Right First Time (RFT) is the idea that all manufacturing processes should be built to reduce wastes and improve overall product quality. RFT is there to ensure that the product meets the quality standards expected as soon as it is off the production line.

With Medical Manufacturing, this might seem difficult, as any mistake that slips through your production line can end up becoming disastrous once that product is on the market. Quality assurance and legal compliance checks must still be conducted, but it should be that once a product is at these points, issues should be reduced massively.

The biggest impact on RFT production is also the most complex part of your shop floor – your workers. But that doesn’t mean that you have to cross your fingers and hope that they’ll get it right. By supporting your workers with the right lean manufacturing tools and clear Work Instructions (and by making traceability easier), you can help the operators on your production line make sure every action they take is guided by your Work Instructions.

Well-crafted Work Instructions can massively improve standardization across your manufacturing – even if you’re operating globally. But how do you implement Work Instructions that don’t slow down your manufacturing…?

MES for medical device manufacturing

A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a completely digital, software-based tool that has the power to completely upgrade your production line. Incorporating an MES into your production line might seem like a big step, but that’s only because its impact can be huge.

Implementing RFT processes requires fully digital Work Instructions. If you’re already looking to digitize your traceability, MESs help you fully digitize all the processes across your Shop Floor – not just your Work Instructions, but all the documentation necessary to keep your products up to compliance. 

Implementing an MES for medical device manufacturing like our own, VisualFactory, allows for much quicker creation of Work Instructions and is designed to present Work Instructions in a way that fully supports your Operators on your production line. 

Alone, this easy implementation of a fully digital RFT process makes adopting an MES an easy solution, but they do much more than just streamline Work Instructions. 

MESs allow you to have real-time visibility over your Shop Floor. From instantly collecting data on materials and inventory, to tracking every step your products take on your Shop Floor, MESs allow for full transparency over the data generated across your production line.  

If you’d like to find out more about NoMuda VisualFactory, take a look at this page on our website.

Build strategy on the back of your data

By creating strategies on the data you collect from your MES, you can start to establish where else lean processes can be implemented. Your data can reveal key insights into areas that can benefit from further optimization this means you can further leverage your MES to help your Shop Floor. 

From identifying bottlenecks, to predicting equipment maintenance, to speeding up employee training, with a well-built MES you can upgrade every part of your production line and in the medical manufacturing field – making sure you have full traceability, without the need for piles of paperwork will streamline your compliance processes. 

Implementation of Lean Manufacturing principles might seem like a challenge, but here at NoMuda we’ve been helping manufacturers move to cleaner, clearer, and leaner processes for over 25 years. And for over 22 years of that, our VisualFactory MES has been advancing, adapting, and upgrading production lines across the globe.  

Take a look at the case study on our work with manufacturer Frencken to see how we’ve helped them streamline compliance processes and upgrade their manufacturing facilities. 

If you’d like to know more about the power of an MES built by lean manufacturing experts, to support manufacturers across a wide range of industries, email us at info@nomuda.com. 

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Lean Manufacturing Medical Manufacturing

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