Lean Manufacturing: for CNC machine users it is defined by the “less is more” rule

Do you know which primary characteristic a production company must have today to become competitive and win in this market?

In reality, the characteristics are many and all fundamental, but there is one that is the most important and can, in both the medium and long term, make the real difference for your production department.

The concepts of Flexible Production and Lean Manufacturing are born thanks to two scholars named Womack and Jones, who had studied in depth various production systems of the major car manufacturers, comparing them with the Japanese Toyota.

The Toyota system proved to be much more efficient and with a clear superiority over all competitors.

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In short, this system exceeds the limits of mass production.  With the concept to get as close as possible to “Just In Time”, i.e. produce only the sold and avoiding the warehouse, manufacturing.

However, a very important concept is often omitted which concerns the starting philosophy to producing in an optimal way.

A concept without which Lean Manufacturing can NOT be applied.

This is the philosophy of “Less is More”, i.e. the focus in Production that helps you to maximize results by minimizing waste and variables.

The Philosophy of “Less is More” and “Focused Purpose”

Every self-respecting production company knows how important it is to have a specific production focus if you want to increase margins and maximize results.

And above all if you want to apply the concepts of JIT (Just In Time) and Produce only the Sold.

This is due to the fact that the MORE products you have to produce for stock then the MORE variables there will be for the company.

Yet most manufacturing companies are constantly striving to have as many products as possible in the catalog.  In order to expand the range of offerings to as many customers as possible.

Most companies have the wrong belief and conception that the more products I have in stock, the more customers I can have and the more profit.

But this concept is unfortunately wrong, because the more products you try to produce and the more you increase the variables in production the more difficult it will be to control your production.

If, on the other hand, you dare to restrict the number of products in the catalog, you will be able to have as few variables as possible in production and this fundamental feature will allow you to:

  1. lower fixed costs
  2. lower the variables and waste
  3. become more flexible
  4. become more productive on the articles in which you decide to focus
  5. increase margins in production
  6. decrease stock

I’m absolutely not saying that you have to only produce a certain number of pieces from one day to the next.

And I’m not even saying that if you only produce 1 or 2 pieces then you earn more.

I would just like to point out that there is a line, a limit, that if you learn to identify allows you to understand:

  • which are the items you need to focus on and which represent the Focus of your Production.
  • what are the articles instead that you have to decide to eliminate / sacrifice, to give more freedom to the company.

Flexible Production starts from the Focused Purpose concept

By understanding these concepts and adapting them to the context of Machine Tool users, the result does not change.

Indeed, it is actually even more correct and only needs some adjustments to be adapted to the CNC world.

In fact, I developed the Flexible Production method, starting from this concept, which is as counter-intuitive as it is enlightening.

The Flexible Production method is born to help you also to define what should be the correct Purpose for your Production.

This will immediately allow your Machine Tools and your Production Department to work better and minimize costs and waste to maximize results.

Once the Focused Purpose has been identified and you begin applying the “less is better” philosophy, you will soon realize that you have a leaner and more flexible company and production; ready to adapt to contexts and market changes.

You do not have to have an endless catalog of production items to offer to customers, but, on the contrary, you have to identify the Focus Group and concentrate all your strength there, to make your machine work better and choose the right machine tools to reach the correct automation-productivity ratio.

Once you have done this step you will soon see how applying the concepts of Lean manufacturing will be easy.

Even for those like you using CNC machine tools and for those who until now thought it was impossible.

All this thanks to the Flexible Production method, which starts from the concept of Focused Production, to get to the choice and definition of the best fleet to which the company can aspire.

I repeat, it is not a path you make from today to tomorrow and I’m not even saying that you have to stop producing something.

Maybe in your case the Production Focus is already defined and already correct and you just have to take the next step, i.e. choose how best to define and optimize the machine tools used.

This I cannot know, because I should first of all get in touch with your company and analyze the situation.

But I can tell you with absolute certainty that the concept of Focused Production is the most basic and fundamental starting and fundamental concept to achieve extraordinary results.

Here’s how I apply the concepts of “Focused Production”

Before talking about a topic, I like to experiment and develop my experience and my results on that particular topic.

If I do not know it, I simply do not talk about it.

In this case, however, I must say that I can define myself as an expert in Lean Manufacturing, Flexible Production, and concepts regarding Focused Production.

Both for applying what I said above, and because I brought home crazy results and today my production is at a peak.

And I would like to share these results with you, to help you reach them like I did.

I am the first to apply the Flexible Production method, what I teach and what I share with you begins from my experience.

Do you know how I started and how I still do it today?

Here, I will explain it to you …

There are various points that I would like to talk about, but let’s start with the customer topic.

For example, I look for customers, it is true, but not any type of customer.

I am looking for customers who fall within a specific target group.  Not just any client as I did in the past.

Not all customers are the same, the mistake I made in the past was to look for any customer to sell my machinery, at any cost, going from company to company to leave catalogs looking for any contact.

The typical day was: wake up 5:30, quick shower, jump in my car to go to appointments set up by phone a few days before by two people who for 8 hours a day called “potential customers” begging for an appointment.

At that time I traveled 2,000 / 2,500km a week with poor results and sometimes empty appointments because the client I had a meeting with had forgotten about the appointment …

Since in a day there are 24 hours and I could visit a limited number of customers with little accomplished, I was spinning my wheels literally and figuratively.

This system was pushing me towards bankruptcy, but then the turnaround …

Since the results did not come, while the costs only increased and the payrolls had to be done despite the lack of orders, I eventually stopped everything.  Or rather, I pulled the emergency brake of a train running at full speed and started from scratch.

Before the change I offered everything to everyone, in fact my offer was:

– TRANSFER MACHINES with fixed units with horizontal axis.

– TRANSFER MACHINES with fixed units with vertical axis.

– TRANSFER MACHINES for high production nuts.

– TRANSFER MACHINES with manual or CNC adjustable units.

– TRANSFER MACHINES with built-in broach.

– MACHINE TRANSFER MACHINE with integrated cutter.

– TRANSFER MACHINES with machining centers.

– Flexible TRANSFER MACHINES with revolver tool heads.

– Flexible TRANSFER MACHINES with tool change.

– TRANSFER MACHINES with LATHE unit with rotating piece.

– SINGLE SPINDLE MACHINES for prototyping.

– Hydraulic broaching machines.

– CNC broaching machines.

– CUTTERS with rotating table.

– SPECIAL TRANSFER MACHINES ON CUSTOMER SPECIFICATION (of the series, #tellmehowyouwantmetobuilditjustforyou).

Potentially with 15 products in the catalog I could satisfy everything and everyone

However, the reality was different: 15 products of which the last was “BUILD ANYTHING WHAT YOU WANT TO ENOUGH THAT YOU BUY …”, the work was still scarce and we did a bit of everything without ever really breaking into any of the 15 categories.

In the end I decided to apply the simple rule of which I spoke above, but drastic, to be put into practice because, at first glance, it might seem a CRAZY CHOICE!

I chose one of the 15 categories to focus on and that is why I now CHOOSE which customers to work with, avoiding going around offering everything to everyone.

In fact, I choose my clients based on precise criteria that I will now list …

The criteria with which I select my customers

My real strength is in the “Flexible Machines built in series” category.

Today I am the only one to offer this on the market, positioning me first, having an advantage in technological know-how of over 10 years, which is very, very difficult to achieve.

In order to achieve extraordinary results you need to get involved even if at first it does not seem logical to you.

So, the most counter-intuitive (and correct) thing you should do is just like what I did.

In your case:

– choose the Production Focus

– choose how to improve the fleet of equipment to obtain the best Automation-Productivity ratio

I still see many companies that remain anchored to ways of thinking that belong to the past (in the past I mean over 5 years ago …).

You have to aim to challenge the old production schemes going against the current needs in order to respond to new market demands.

I, for example, in addition to the Production Focus to specialize production on the Multicenter, I also chose a focus of customer quality, i.e. the most ambitious, willing to improve, and that give me the opportunity to show them that in which I excel.

And I must say that the system is working great.

If you are a customer who aims to PRODUCE ONLY THE SOLD, so as not to produce for stock and not turn cash into materials that you may or may not sell …

If you are a customer who, when receiving increasingly frequent orders with PART LOTS GETTING SMALLER, sees, in these requests, big opportunities to earn …

If you are a customer who chooses to re-equip your production department with satisfaction and not as a nuisance or last resort, because you know you want to be more competitive than others …

If you are a customer that when asked to add additional work, look at these requests in a positive way because you see ADDITIONAL SERVICES for you at low cost and offer them to the final customer as a paid service …

If you are a customer that when you have decided to buy the “MULTICENTER” you want it in 3 or 4 months in order to insert it into production because you understand how much advantage you quickly gain …

If you are a customer who when he does the correct assessment, who understands how important it is to have a COMPACT MACHINE that takes up less surface and does not need foundations but is simply placed on an industrial floor …

If you are a customer who prefers ONE ROBOT LOADING AND UNLOADING instead of 2 or 3 robots, saving on automation costs and simplifying the machine cell; or the same thing if you want to use manual labor, i.e. less operators involved in loading operations / unloading …

If you are a customer who measures the energy used by the MULTICENTER and you realize that it CONSUMES 50% LESS compared to 3 standard machining centers …

If you are a customer who understands that it is simpler to KEEP CONTROL OF ONLY ONE PRODUCTION PROCESS than 3 independent production processes in favor of CP and CPK …

If you are a customer who sees in the SIMPLICITY and ECONOMY OF MULTICENTER EQUIPMENT a point in your favor to be more competitive than having multi-process equipment with more complicated, more expensive and more difficult to manage common machining centers …

If you are a customer who sees in the CYCLE TIME of the piece a considerable advantage to produce more pieces at the same time, speeding up deliveries to your customers …

If you are a customer who appreciates the FAST CHANGEOVER thanks to the considerable number of tools available and only having to replace 4 total part fixtures …

If you are a customer who appreciates the structure of the machine and understands that this system allows you to have short and compact tools to the BENEFIT OF GREATER RIGIDITY which translates into higher performing cutting tools and longer tool life …

If you are a customer who attaches importance to all the points above, then you can simply contact me and you can enter the world of Flexible Production.


If, on the other hand, the above topics do not fit into your priorities, or you do not consider them as important for the success of your company, then it is better that we both do not waste time.

Here, you should do something similar, I would not say the same, but similar for your production.

So first the following 2 points:

  1. Choose your Production Focus, i.e. the family of items to be produced and narrowing your offer if necessary, sacrificing products that take away flexibility and productivity
  2. Choose how to optimize the Machine Tool fleet, by deciding which machines to eliminate and which will be the new machine tools to be included in your production department. Possibly to help you get the best relationship between Automation-Flexibility-Productivity.

The flexible machines are also born for this, to help you create a strong production environment and ready to get you the best results.

If you want to go deeper on the topic of “Flexible Production”,


>>> www.flexibleproductionbook.com <<<

My book, dedicated to users of machine tools that want to make the leap in quality & productivity, is waiting for you!!!

Maurizio Porta