Lean manufacturing combines the leading thought and line processes with the most successful business philosophies. While lean benefits from worldwide learning examples, this process of waste reduction and efficiency building usually focuses on the Japanese management philosophy of kaizen and the 1980s Toyota line processes.
Not Just Manufacturing
While most commonly associated with manufacturing, these methods extend to all business processes. Any tweak that makes work easier and faster while better serving the organization’s customers qualifies as a lean process. That makes outfitting your organization’s executive and administrative offices with ergonomic workstations that overlook the plant floor a lean action.
Similarly, outfitting plant processes and procedures with appropriate devices to reduce line workers’ reach or steps – like introducing modular stations to hold often needed items – qualifies.
Whether you update an office process to reduce paperwork or a plant process to reduce the number of repetitive motions, you used the Kaizen philosophy to stop a productivity issue before it creates a bottleneck.
When you retrofit pipe and connectors, as well as when you buy mailing tubes to store safety posters to keep them pristine until hanging, you utilize these philosophies. But, how do you find the processes and procedures that need changes? There are two main methods.
First, ask your employees what would make processes go faster without reducing quality or simplify their activities. Second, walk the floor and observe. Many problems can be solved by simply watching a process from start to finish.
Sometimes, a well-placed rack or shelf resolves work floor issues. Others require re-writing processes or innovating software, or even a machine part. It can’t all be as simple as replacing pipe and connector or new mailing tubes, but every enhancement gets you closer to a better product for your customers in a more efficient workplace that enhances the safety of your employees.
While many consider this a business program, it is really a company-wide philosophy. You need it embraced from top to bottom, from the C-level to the front desk receptionist. When people think of Toyota, they reflect on its line procedures, but it extended its philosophy to customer service and sales, as well. It provided a customer connection through its public relations and enhanced its ability to serve all its publics – dealers, customers, and vendors. Instituting this philosophy cuts the waste from the office, the line and an organization’s thinking.
Contact C Tek Lean Solutions for help getting started implementing a better way to work. Let us help you get remake your work processes.