From improved efficiency and customer satisfaction to an increase in revenue, lean manufacturing has many positive benefits for companies and the customers that they serve. Although lean has a number of advantages, not all businesses have adopted the practice. If your company has not yet started using lean manufacturing, you’re in a great position to explain the advantage to your co-workers and even supervisors. To make the most of a lean transition, the experts at C Tek Lean Solutions explain how to incorporate lean into your daily business practices with seven easy steps.
What is Lean?
Before you can start implementing lean into your daily business practices, it helps to know what the lean philosophy entails. Lean manufacturing originated with the Toyota Production System, which was started by (and still used by) Toyota, which is one of the most popular and respected car manufacturers today. Lean is also often associated with Six Sigma, which is a series of practices designed to improve manufacturing processes and make businesses more efficient. Lean includes several different steps to help improve business efficiency.
Seven Steps of Lean
If you are thinking that now is the time to start applying lean principles to your business operations, you can start out with these seven fundamental steps:
- Eliminate waste
- Reduce excess inventory
- Shorten production cycles
- Expedite response time
- Quality testing
- Employee autonomy
- Customer feedback
#1 One of the first and most important steps you’ll want to take in the lean manufacturing process is eliminate waste. Waste is easily and broadly defined as anything in the production cycle that does not add value. Waste usually translates to wasteful activities at the production plant that do not add value. In conjunction with reducing waste, employees often simultaneously look for ways to add efficiency to the product line.
#2 Another step to implement for leaner business operations is reducing unnecessary inventory. The premise of this step is that the cost to maintain excess inventory quite often outweighs the potential benefits. In turn, this can drain resources, create quality control issues, and reduce response time between employees and customers. Rather than having too few resources, companies might overcompensate and stock too many products in their inventory, which can also create waste.
#3 Production cycles can usually be shortened to reduce waste and improve efficiency. In many cases, companies find that production can take hours to complete, especially with the advent of technology, where the same process historically took days or weeks to finish.
#4 Another area of customer service that lean can improve is response time. Again, technology plays a major role in response time. Many companies have internal systems, using the technology at their disposal, to create a more rapid response time to answer requests and demands for customers and business partners.
#5 Quality is one of the most important factors for a company. Therefore, businesses will want to make sure that their products have been fully tested for optimal quality. If issues exist with quality, businesses can fine-tune their operations to find the problems that are causing impediments and making all corrections necessary to improve their process.
#6 Employee autonomy is another important step in lean. Employees like to feel as though they are empowered and have the authority to make their own decisions. Provided you give them the methods and tools that they need to make decisions, they will gladly do so. Employee involvement can also improve performance and morale.
#7 Finally, always remember that customers are one of a company’s most critical assets. As you’re making changes using lean practices, don’t hesitate to ask for input and feedback from customers. Ultimately, you want your new lean technique to be flexible, adaptable, and responsive to changes.
Contact C Tek Lean Solutions to learn more about the benefits of lean and incorporating lean into your business practices.