Lean philosophy emphasises on removing wasteful steps in a process and only retaining steps that add value to it.
Focused on developing agile processes to improve overall efficiency, the Lean method is adopted by several organisations to ensure high quality and customer satisfaction across the board.
Some benefits of adopting lean methodology include:
- Improving product or service delivery time
- Reducing process cycle time
- Reducing or eliminating defects in production
- Optimal resource utilisation
The History of Lean
The history of lean manufacturing can be tracked to the development of the Toyota Production System post the second world war. At that time, Toyota was actively developing a range of low-cost methods to improve their productivity, as well as, efficiency, to compete with the burgeoning American car manufacturing industry.
However, the origin of the term, Lean Manufacturing, rests in the book, “The Machine That Changed The World”, by Womack. Sharing a straightforward account of the history of automobile manufacturing across the world, the book defines lean management as a set of principles and tools to improve the efficiency and safety of business processes while reducing the cost and lead times by eliminating waste from all processes.
Lean methodology consists of proven tools and techniques that focus on minimising waste and adding value to the end product to meet customer needs. The 8 areas of waste can be identified as WOODMITS:
Is there lag time is there between your production steps? This can include:
- System downtime or response time
- Waiting for approvals
- Delayed information from customers
- Meetings starting late
- Late reports, paychecks, or projects
Are you producing the right amount to meet your consumers demand or are you:
- Producing sooner than is required for the next process
- Purchasing items not because they are needed but because they might be needed
- Preparing unnecessary reports that will not be used or read
Do you indulge in extra mental or physical steps that do not add any value such as:
- Producing repetitive documents from scratch
- Lack of visual controls
- Meetings without agendas
Do you generate additional wastes such as over production, extra processing, transportation? Such as
- Producing products or services that are out of specification
- Wastes that requires additional resource for correction
- That fails to meet customer expectations
How is the coordination between people and equipment at your organisation? Do employees waste time in activities such as:
- Walking to the printer that is placed far away from users
- Digging through stacks of paper for information
- Looking for misplaced equipment/items
Do you waste time or money in accumulating? Such as:
- Excessive office supplies
- Computer files never used
- TRANSPORTATION/MATERIAL MOVEMENT:
Do you move materials efficiently or engage in wasteful processes, such as:
- Filing papers that won’t be used in the future
- Buying extra supplies than required
- Hand deliveries that take extra time
- SPACES and SKILLS:
Do you underutilise skills/talents or occupy unwanted spaces? such as:
- Storage of excess inventory leads to wasted spaces
- Skill waste refers to employees not effectively engaged in the process
- Underutilisation of employees talents/skills
Do More With Less
As you can see, Lean focuses on improving processes by removing ‘waste’ or steps that don’t add any value to a process. This particular focus on eliminating wastes makes Lean methodology an important skill set for anyone who wishes to succeed in a managerial or leadership role.
By mastering the concepts and principles of Lean manufacturing, one can simplify and organise their work environment to reduce waste and make the entire system more responsive to customer needs.
To achieve this, Lean adopts a customer centric focus by asking organisations to define value or “What does the customer value?”
This approach helps to divide a process into value added, non-value added, and value-added enabling steps.
Clearly, customers should not be paying for defects or non-value added steps – such as the cost of idle employees or overproduction, indicating inefficient processes and systems.
Transform Your Career Today
As you would agree, Lean certification holders are an asset to any organisation due to their ability to remove waste and manage value, which are desirable for senior managerial positions.
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