The definition of Lean might differ depending on which industry it is practiced in, however Lean, when condensed, is about making activities produce more value while eliminating waste.
But before we move further ahead, then let’s get some common misconceptions out of the way about Lean first.
Common misconceptions about Lean will say it only focuses on manufacturing, that expectations are to do more with less or its time consuming and costly to implement.
None of these statements are true in fact, as Lean principles can be applied to other functions within a business as well. It seeks to, as mentioned previously, produce more value and eliminate waste, which can be achieved outside of manufacturing too.
One of the objectives is to create flow of products, services or information, which is not about increasing the pace of which employees work. This focuses on productivity, coordination and elimination of waste such as removing delays, reducing movement or producing too much.
Starting to practice Lean and a continuous improvement culture is about understanding the philosophy and methodology behind, which is then tied into ideas and practices within the business. It’s not a requirement to purchase expensive machines or software to be successful with Lean, since the methods are about identifying and eliminating waste, establishing or improving flow of the processes and this is done by all the stakeholders involved.
Let’s have a closer look at the Lean principles.
The initial foundation is to Define Value from the Perspective of the Customer through methods such as Voice of Customer for specific products or services, which is then traced back to the internal processes of the business.
Having the value defined then comes the Value Stream Mapping, which is vital to further identify value-adding and non-value-adding activities within the process to bring the product or service to the customer. By exposing these activities, a plan to establish flow through the end-to-end process can be put together with tools such as Just In Time, One-Piece flow, Kanban etc.
Referring to the 7 wastes it’s important to produce to actual customer demand in order to eliminate waste, and an implementation of signals of actual demand to pull the product or service through the entire value stream is essential for being successful with developing a lean process.
As customer demand changes as well as products and services and new technologies, a continuous improvement effort needs to be established and a work to perfection mindset created. With continuous improvement projects that seek to eliminate further waste through re-evaluations of current setups or breakthrough innovations, that additionally adds more customer value.
And it’s worth mentioning again the importance of ensuring to get every employee onboard with the lean culture, which involves all the above aspects. Therefore, when the identifications of value are mapped and processes designed to implement flow and pull, the stakeholders involved to perform needs to be trained, informed and aligned. Otherwise, it ends up being an implementation of a Lean tool instead of operating and learning in a Lean & continuous improvement culture.
Typical deliveries connected to LEAN & Productivity with ZCG:
- Quantified potentials in your processes.
- Customer/value-based design of processes.
- Kanban material pull systems.
- SMED change-over optimizations.
- One-piece flow layouts and work balancing.
- Shop-floor KPI definitions and visualizations.
- 5S clean-up and visualized tools and materials placement.
- Standard processes and continuous improvement setups.
- Visual management boards to engage all employees.
- Training programs for employees and managers.
- LEAN assessment tools to evaluate gaps and ongoing audit of behavior.