Those experienced in lean know that probably the best way to reduce the cost of manufacturing a product is to design it better. By selecting the right raw materials and by creating a design that is easy to assemble, the product costs less and takes less time to produce.
Kathleen Fasanella, in her blog Fashion Incubator, highlights an interesting application of the concept. She focuses on the work of Timo Rissanen, a fashion professor who tries to design products with zero waste.
We’ve all heard about the problems that occur with silos in manufacturing, and that seems to be part of the problems that Kathleen says Rissanen tries to address.
Timo says waste reduction must be realized at the front of the line in design, which is then incorporated in patterns rather than leaving all the responsibility for waste reduction and reducing fabric costs with the cutters.
Rissanen’s approach is to fit the pieces of a garment together in a pattern so artfully designed that when they are cut from a length of fabric, virtually nothing is left over. You can see a couple of examples of these types of patterns on Kathleen’s blog.
I imagine this type of approach has applications in certain kinds of manufacturing as well. Do you know of any?