What is lean? business Resources


Read as the name suggests is the production of products or services that use the least of everything – human effort, investment in furniture, machinery, space, tools, time, development, transportation / movement. The term is called Lean, Lean Manufacturing and Lean Enterprise, all of which mean the same thing and derive from the Toyota Production system and some other sources. However, simply reducing waste from your processes has enabled Toyota to become one of the largest and most reliable car companies in the world.

Lean is therefore the identification and stable elimination of waste through the implementation of perfect first-rate methods for work, standardization of processes, smoothing of flow, work flexibility, long-term relationships with customers and supplies and reduction of time leading to cost reduction and improvement of the company. To achieve this, a number of tools have been developed that facilitate the removal of waste from processes and a number of methods for implementing the principles.

In organizations where Lean’s principles are fully understood, people use tools and techniques without thought, as waste elimination and flow improvement become the norm. Lean in its many coatings has been around since the 1940s and has evolved and adapted over the years to become one of the most important business improvement methods used in many of the world’s leading companies. At heart, lean is effectively effective and easy to understand. Lean implementation is therefore focused on getting the right things, to the right place, at the right time, in the right amount to achieve perfect workflow, while minimizing waste and inventor while being flexible and capable of to change if customer needs change.

No matter how simple, the core of any lean implementation is the cultural and managerial aspects of Lean that are equally and possibly more important than the tools or methodologies of the lean itself. There are many examples of implementing Lean tools without lasting benefits, and these are often blamed on poor understanding of Lean in the organization.

The first concept to be understood is that waste is bad. This has been the ethos of successful businesses from Henry Ford onwards. So what is a waste?

Waste or non-value added work is something that does not add value to your product or service. When you examine your processes in real detail, you find that the vast majority of what we do is not value-added. To illustrate this Shigeo Shingo (a deep skinny thinker) observed ‘that it is only the last turn of a bolt that tightens it – the rest is just movement’. If we go through everything we do to this extent, we see that most of our activities are a waste. To eliminate waste, we need to examine three aspects – design and planning of our activities, fluctuations in our activities such as quality and volume, and thirdly, the waste in our processes even in the movement of people and materials and the machines they use.

When you examine your processes in this way, you can be said to ‘learn to see’ and can begin to eliminate the waste and improve the processes. To make things easier, there are 7 ways to think about waste.

The original seven wastes are:

o Overproduction (production ahead of demand) – doing things ahead of when the customer actually wants them. We do this because our processes are not reliable or we like to manufacture or perform large batches (traditionally, auditors have told us this is the most efficient way)

o Transport – moving parts, materials or work in progress around a factory or paper around an office

o Waiting – for parts or information so you can perform the task

o Inventory (all material, work in progress and finished product) – Products that are manufactured and that cannot be used or sold immediately go into inventory that binds money, space and causes more management problems

o Movers or equipment that moves or goes beyond what is necessary to perform the treatment

o Overworking – earning more than necessary or doing more work than necessary because you cannot guarantee what the result will be, ie. i need 20 but i will earn 25 if something goes wrong

o Defects / rework – the effort involved in inspecting and correcting defects, reworking objects or having to scrap

An 8th waste has now been identified

o Human talent – a waste of people’s talent – training, enthusiasm and brainpower.

By identifying waste and activities without added value in our processes, we can then start using the lean tools to eliminate them. Typical Lean tools include – 5S, visual control, TPM, SMED, Pokie Yokie, standardized work, pull systems, clock time, single-piece flow, Kanban, cellular manufacturing, design for manufacturing, kaizen, etc.

Read thinking and the tools associated with it have been used for decades worldwide by every type of business. There is a standard approach to implementing lean thinking.

o Step 1: Enter value

Define value from the end customer’s perspective. What does your customer actually want, what should they pay for, and when do they want it?

o Step 2: Short

Identify the value stream, all the actions required to bring a specific product through the physical flow of the business. This includes all information flow and management flow to make things happen. Create a map of what it is like today and what you want it to look like. Identify and categorize waste in its current state and remove it!

o Step 3: Flow

Make the remaining steps in the value stream. Remove functional barriers and develop a product-focused organization that dramatically improves lead time.

o Step 4: Pull

Have the customer pull products as needed and remove the need for a sales forecast.

o Step 5: Perfection

There is no end to the process of reducing effort, time, space, costs and mistakes. Return to the first step and start the next lean transformation that offers a product that is becoming more and more nearly what the customer wants.

If you have a top management team that understands the concepts and a workforce that embraces the culture, Lean will transform your business.

So what is Lean Six Sigma?

As mentioned above, when used together, Lean and Six Sigma will provide a business improvement methodology that combines tools from both Lean Enterprise (Manufacturing) and Six Sigma. Read eliminates the waste in your processes, while Six Sigma ensures quality by eliminating variation in your processes and also provides a structured data-driven structure to solve problems and implement sustainable change in your business.

Why is there even a debate about which one to use?

For some reason two camps have emerged, one supporting Lean and the other Six Sigma. Lots of it is childish, my way is better than yours and some of them are lack of knowledge. Whatever you find is that both approaches use each other’s tools in any way. So the whole thing is stupid. As with any business improvement, you need the best tool for the job, no matter what it is or where it came from. You must constantly look for new tools, methods, applications and methods to meet your customer and business needs by eliminating waste and improving quality. That’s why we always train, consult and coach in Lean Six Sigma, but bring in everything else we know. That’s why we don’t mind calling your improvement in action what you ever like, and that’s why we get results.