Looking at how to do more with less? Do you need to improve your company’s lead time, process and productivity? Do you wish to eliminate waste and reduce cost but not sure how to do it? Discover how Lean can help you create precise customer value by delivering quality goods and services with fewer resources, time, human effort, space, and capital. Lean achieves this objective by focusing on what creates value for the customer and eliminating activities that do not create value.
Lean is called different names in different contexts and applications, but the principles, objectives, and tools are largely the same. Some of the more common alternative names are : Lean Thinking, Lean management, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Production, Toyota Production System TPS, World Class Manufacturing System etc.
What Is Lean Management?
Lean is about doing more with less. The 5 key Lean principles are as follows:
The 5 Key Lean Principles
Value – Specify value from the point of view of the customer
Value stream – establish all the process steps in the value stream, and remove any step that does not create value
Flow – enable the remaining value-creating steps to occur in a very tight and integrated sequence so that the product or service can flow smoothly toward the customer.
Pull – As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
Pursue perfection – As these steps lead to greater transparency, enabling further elimination of waste, pursue perfection through continuous improvement.
(Ref: Lean Thinking, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What are some of the benefits of Lean implementation?
Reduces waste or non value-add activities
Improves velocity (lead time)
Reduces delay and idle time
Reduces the cost of operations
Improves customer satisfaction
2. Can Lean be applied to non-manufacturing industries such as service industries or public sector?
While Lean has its roots in manufacturing industries, it has been implemented in many other industries with great success. Some of the industries:
MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) Operations
Public Service and Government
3. Can Lean be applied to support functions?
In fact, for Lean implementation to be sustainable, Lean implementation must not be limited to the core processes but also include the support processes. Some examples of the support functions that must be included are:
Information Technology (IT)
Failure to include these support functions results in sub-optimization, inefficiency, constraints, and bottlenecks in the overall value stream flow.
4. Is Lean all about tools and techniques?
No, Lean is more than industrial engineering and tools. For Lean implementation to be successful and sustainable, we need both software (eg. Lean thinking, culture, people, policy, management, alignment) and hardware (eg. Lean tools, industrial engineering ). In fact, the soft side of Lean is probably more important than the tools for sustainability, although initially, the tools can create a lot of tangible impact and interest.
5. Is Lean time-consuming and costly to implement and maintain?
No, Lean implementation does not require expensive tools and equipment. In fact, most Lean improvements look at freeing up existing resources (equipment, facilities, space, manpower) instead of acquiring more. By identifying, eliminating waste and improving flow, it is very common for companies to gain significant improvement with very minimal investment. It is also very common for these companies to free up resources that were previously tied up in non-value added activities (eg. Free up space due to poor layout, free up time due to waiting/rework, improve cash flow due to better inventory management).
6. Is Lean Mean?
No, Lean is not mean. Lean does not require employees to work harder or faster. It increases value-add of business by:
removing waste (Muda),
removing unevenness( Mura) or inconsistency,
removing overburden ( Muri ) which cause fatigue/stress,
Overall, employee work environment, welfare, well-being will be improved.
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