Lean and Agile in Manufacturing: What's the Difference?

10/25/21 11:46 AM

In a supply chain, the amount of waste produced can make a vast difference in regards to profitability. By locating the areas where waste is prevalent, and by implementing methods of waste reduction, this can benefit the overall production process and the bottom line. The Difference Between Lean and Agile in Manufacturing Locating the areas of waste is the easy part due to the visibility of waste and it's handling. Discovering the correct waste reduction method is the more complex aspect. When considering production approaches such as lean or agile, which one is considered the most efficient for your particular operation? It depends. 

Going Lean With the Entire Supply Chain

When using lean principles within a supply chain, inventory management is vital. Lean manufacturing can have a malleable definition because it is applied differently according to each individual operation. The overall principle of lean is that anything that is not deemed as valuable is eliminated and ultimately leads to a reduction in waste produced. This is what companies such as Toyota are doing to combat their waste production and has allowed them to become a top vehicle-manufacturing company, worldwide. The best way for lean to thrive is through the entire supply chain being compatible with lean. Without lean suppliers and subcontractors, the system can not reach maximum efficiency potential. If your operation contains attributes such as there being small variations of demand, then a lean principled system could be especially useful in that case.

Agile and Lean Differences in Manufacturing

Production Within Agile Supply Chain

Now, with lean manufacturing inventory is the key component in reducing waste; with agile, it is current on-hand data. Accurate data is the only way a facility will be able to efficiently implement lean. The system must represent up-to-minute adjustment and the correct amount of products that need to be produced within a given time depending on the swift change in demand. Swift changes in demand can really be anything; economic downturns, advancement in technology, customer preference, etc, which agile accounts for these dramatic changes. This is why facilities that are flexible with and prone to swift changes in demand would be more compatible with agile manufacturing principles. This reduces waste though real-time data that is presented through constant changes and finds a solution for operations that have varying demand. If your facility is data driven, agile may be a better alternative than lean for you.

Implementing APS with Agile or Lean

Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) systems are compatible with both lean and agile manufacturing. APS enables a fast and flexible capacity planning, production scheduling, and extension of existing systems such as ERP, MRP and MES, and with other perks such as:

    • Real time visualization & Optimization
    • Alerts and KPIS
    • Bottleneck & Materials Management
    • “What-if” Scenarios
    • Analytics & Reporting

These APS features are useful with either lean or agile environment and may further enhance an operation through feedback accessibility, visibility, production accuracy, and overall efficiency. 

Related Lean Manufacturing Video 

 APS Resources

Topics: Advanced Planning and Scheduling, Lean Manufacturing, capacity planning, PlanetTogether, production planning, capacity, scheduling, JIT, Kanban, MRP, theory of constraints, sequencing, minimize waste, Material Requirement Planning, agile, challenges in supply chain


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