Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing

Our team has aggressively pursued lean manufacturing principles since the company began as ProCNC in 2001 and continues to this day as Trulife Engineered Solutions. These principles have completely transformed our company and allowed us to reduce our cost and lead-time to our customers. With as much progress as we have made over the years, we are never satisfied and we always strive to reduce even more waste in our operation. Continuous improvement and waste reduction is a philosophy that is ingrained in everyone at Trulife and it is one of our core beliefs.

Taiichi Ohno and Toyota pioneered the comprehensive application of lean manufacturing in the 1950’s. Their system was called the Toyota Production System. We employ many techniques that are outlined in the Toyota Production System (TPS) including Kaizen (continuous improvement), Kanban (replenishment system), Just-In-Time, Takt-Time, and Standardized Work. Virtually every order we make is done utilizing a single part flow process across multiple CNC machines with parts going from raw material to packaged goods in one complete process. This eliminates the inventory of batch processing, reduces the chance of catching defects late in the process, and allows us to respond better to customer requirements. We also reduce direct labor hour (DLH) costs significantly with this process.

Trulife has 4 different Kaizen teams - in the front office, production manufacturing, programming department and prototype departments which rotate staff into 5 person Kaizen teams and we target 5% of manufacturing time company wide on Kaizen activities or over 100 hours per month. These activities are comprised of creating solutions to wastes (Muda) that have been identified by anyone in the company. There are seven wastes of production according to the TPS:

• Motion
• Transportation
• Overproduction
• Waiting
• Inventory
• Defects
• Processing

We have eliminated countless hours of waste by identifying thousands of process improvements suggested by the employees through the Kaizen process.

We hold company wide lean training sessions to train new employees and reinforce the concepts for everyone. These training sessions include the famous paper airplane exercise, which demonstrates the importance of one-piece-flow and pull systems over batch and push methods.

Lean Manufacturing Workshop


Value Stream Mapping activity is used to reduce lead time and waste by analyzing the flow of material and information through the value stream and eliminating non-value added time and processing. We employ this method to analyze order entry, planning and programming, set-up and machining, and packaging and shipping.

Setup Reduction (SMED) workshops are frequently held to analyze the CNC machine set-up process in great detail. By examining the specific steps, distance traveled, hand motion, elapsed times, tools used, etc. in close detail, the waste can be identified and eliminated. Any setup steps that can be done external to the machine are removed to reduce the amount of downtime for the CNC machine. Standardized machinist workstations have been created at each CNC machine as a result of our SMED activity. These stations are extremely compact with only the required tools that are required to work at the CNC machine. Any additional tools that are required for specific jobs are collected as part of the external setup of the job.

Standard Work Combination Sheet
Standard Work Combination (SWC) sheets are created for each production order we process. The flow process is visually represented on this sheet so that the Takt-Time can be optimized to reduce DLH for the job. This sheet shows all of the auto, manual, and waiting time for each step of the process. This sheet was created using visual basic programming to automatically adjust the time lines based on numerical input. See the example SWC sheet above. It represents a part that is made on 2 CNC machines with a total takt time of about 5.7 minutes (340 seconds). We are doing 9.75 (585 seconds) minutes of machining with only one labor element, which significantly reduces the cost of the part and the lead time to machine the part.
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