It is still a little surprising to me when I read about companies just discovering the benefits of Lean Manufacturing. The concept has been around for quite some time (it was originally termed "Lean" by the LEI in the late 1980s) and it is even permeating into other sectors such a Health, Finance and Administration. In fact, any business that has a process of some sort (every business?) can benefit from Lean.
In brief, Lean is the reduction of waste in all its forms. And while the traditional Seven Wastes has been expanded to include Eight or Nine Wastes, Lean essentially aims to reduce the following wastes:
- Over production
- Over processing
- Defective Units
Click here for more details about what these mean and how they negatively affect your business.
Two important things to remember here. Where Lean Manufacturing fails is when companies have approached it as a one-off event - it should be treated as a continuous improvement program and there are tools you can use to ensure Lean is implementable and sustainable in your organisation. Second, it's success should be measured as a cultural change above all else. It is fine to see productivity rise and that's ultimately what everyone wants, but when staff buy into the Lean mentality and it is part of the culture, you know you have been successful and will be in the long term.
The Lean tools I mentioned before are outlined in our ProEdge Manufacturing Excellence program, which has been scheduled for this year - the next one is in Mackay, Queensland on 19th February.
Lean Manufacturing gets results too. Read some of our recent success stories of companies that have implemented Lean well (click on the business name to read the full case study):
- reduced job turnaround times from 30 to 17 days
- increased production volume by 50%
Before and after Lean at Austchrome
- 100% delivery in full, on time
- increased productivity by 100%
- increased productivity wins mining client
There is a whole new blog topic where you can relate the principles of Lean to those espoused by sustainability advocates, but for now, just know that Lean works, it's scalable and your competitors are probably already doing it.