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Right, so how do you get the business benefits that lean can deliver? Well part of the answer is through the application of a range of lean manufacturing tools and techniques. But as stated before lean is more than tools, instead it’s a way of thinking. The application of the techniques therefore needs to be put into an overarching context. Bearing this in mind, before embarking on your lean journey Womack and Jones suggest organisations think about 3 fundamental business issues, listed and further explained below. Careful consideration of these provides the vision your business can then work towards.
What customer problems will the enterprise solve to achieve its own purpose of prospering?
Your business improvement programme should be based on solving customer problems. This should be the fundamental reason driving the activities that make your business thrive.
How will the organization assess each major value stream to make sure each step is valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible and that all the steps are linked by flow, pull and levelling?
You need to understand the processes in the business that actually deliver value for your customers. Value stream mapping will visualise this for you. Then get all your people removing waste by seeking out and eliminating the root cause of problems. Customer demand should pull products through your process, preferably in continuous one-piece flow. Aim to reduce inventory and work-in-progress, whilst using standardised processes to eliminate defects and improve quality. Never be content with the status quo. Instead aim to continuously improve your processes.
How will the organisation insure that every important process has someone responsible for continually evaluating that value stream in terms of business purpose and lean process? How can everyone touching the value stream be actively engaged in operating it correctly and continually improving it?
Fundamental to lean is the idea all employees are proactively involved in improving processes, reducing waste and enhancing quality. For this to be effective, managers and all other employees work collaboratively, with a common purpose. An atmosphere of trust and respect should underpin a culture where those closest to the job continually make improvements to standardised processes. Training and instruction is necessary to help employees understand the importance of customer-defined value in all processes, as well as the lean techniques necessary to solve problems. As ever, people are your best asset. So keep them fully engaged with frequent informal meetings, through visual management by walking around, as well as performance data on easily accessible noticeboards.Lean Manufacturing Tools Techniques
A succinct introduction to Lean Manufacturing (courtesy of Advanced Industrial Equipment)
Tools Crucial to Lean Manufacturing
A good place to start is with some of the essential tools and techniques key to the successful application of lean manufacturing. You’ll find a straightforward, application-based explanation for each one below. Additionally, why not research further to understand which of the techniques would make the greatest impact where you work.
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