What is lean manufacturing?
As companies are retrenching in North America, they are becoming more advanced. Companies have streamlined their processes to reduce waste and compete with low labour rates overseas. Specialists, trained in lean manufacturing techniques, are helping these companies become more competitive.
Lean manufacturing is a methodology that encompasses a variety of techniques and methods to make a process more efficient. The ultimate goal of a lean company is to focus on value to the customer and reduce anything in their process that doesn’t provide value.
One main facet of lean manufacturing is the reduction of inventory. Inventory is goods that have been produced, but not sold yet. Most traditional companies want to produce as much goods as their machines will allow them to, but a lean company will try to be flexible and not produce excess inventory, while still maximizing the capacity of their machines.
What does all this mean to you?
Companies interested in lean manufacturing need experts to help them along this path to being more efficient. Trained individuals use a variety of tools and techniques to reduce inventory and analyse processes. There’s a high demand for people skilled in lean manufacturing and this demand will continue to grow as more and more companies try to improve.
Most industrial engineering degree programs train individuals in lean methods, in addition to traditional industrial engineering techniques. For this reason, industrial engineers are always sought after by companies looking to change.
But you don’t need to be an industrial engineer to be a lean expert. There are many lean certification options for non engineers. In fact, most lean techniques are simple rules of thumb that don’t require complicated math. Many companies are trying to get away from traditional engineering approaches and welcome trained individuals who don’t have an engineering background.
Where can you get a lean manufacturing certification?
There are plenty of options online, but the quality of these programs vary greatly. Some are highly respected, such as Villanova University, while others are simply consultants trying to sell a basic lean training package. While there is nothing wrong with some lean training, you will want to ensure that the credentials are recognized when you begin searching for a job.
Look for programs that offer some degree of hands on learning, perhaps with a project-based approach. This allows you to have some experience to show on your resume and talk about to prospective employers. Learning by doing is always the best way to retain knowledge.
At this point, there’s no industry standard for lean certification. However, many respected organizations offer lean training and this may be one avenue to explore. Groups like ASQ and SME are well-known and credentials from them may be more attractive.
To learn more about the SME Bronze, Silver and Gold certifications, go to the SME lean certification page.
As well, many technical colleges offer certificate programs in lean manufacturing, if you are looking for a more traditional certificate or diploma. One example is this lean certificate program from the University of Michigan.
Lean manufacturing is a growing field and a lean certification is a good investment in your future. As more and more companies become familiar with lean manufacturing techniques, the demand for lean professionals will only increase.