Lean – also knows as Lean Manufacturing – is a methodology which can be used to help any business concentrate on giving the customer the best quality product or service at the lowest internal cost. It isn’t limited to the manufacturing sector by any means, however Lean’s roots are certainly in manufacturing. Toyota that developed the concept of Lean in the 1950s, when it was called the Toyota Manufacturing System.
Lean has come a long way since then. More tools have been created to help practitioners implement the methodology and people have become familiar with the different words in use – 5S, SMED, Pull Systems, Andon and Kaisen are all mainstream words in business vocabulary. Other tools have also been developed, including Six Sigma which was developed by Motorola in the early 1980s. Six Sigma is a data driven statistical approach to business improvement, and is ideal when the company has lots of data to solve a problem that is difficult to solve in traditional ways. Data is also important to Lean, however the statistical tools of Six Sigma are not necessary.
It would be a mistake to think of Lean as a collection of tools, though. Lean is a mindset where everybody is doing their best to ensure that the products or services being created & supplied are exactly what the customer needs – no more & no less. These products & services should be delivered in the most efficient way, reducing the wasteful elements to a minimum.
Waste is the enemy of Lean, and the major waste streams that Lean concentrates on are :
Transport Movement of items, parts, files, documents & people
Inventory Raw Materials, semi-finished parts, full in-trays, queues of orders
Motion Movements of people
Waiting Time delays caused by missing parts, information, equipment or people
Overproduction Making more than the customer needs – could be documents or widgets
Overprocessing Doing too much work on an item – an overly complex workflow, or maybe finishing to too high a standard
Defects Doing things that are not “right first time”
It’s often useful to use the mnemonic TIM WOOD to be able to easily remember these wastes.
There are many tools that can help you to implement Lean – the House of Lean in the diagram shows some of them. Clicking on the image will take you to a page that gives a short explanation of the tools. Alternatively, contact Principality Consulting for a discussion on how we can help you to implement a Lean strategy by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0844 372 5856.