Implementing lean and lean manufacturing concepts

The implementation of lean, lean manufacturing into any operation or business can deliver great results in efficiency, team morale and culture, and a healthier bottom line. The challenge is getting to that goal of ultimate operations efficiency across the supply chain from wherever or however the business or operation is currently operating. Lean is not an end goal but a path and journey which involves everyone in the business including external stakeholders in the elimination of waste and optimization of all businesses processes not only production plants.

The approach in achieving a lean operation, organization, or implementing lean techniques to improve processes and achieve efficiencies in a business the following framework provides a structured approach similar to the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle:

Evaluating current business performance

Evaluating business performance is the first and most important step to gauge where the business or operation stands financially and performance which can be measured in a vast array of ways, usually by a set of KPI's and understanding the process with process analysis tools like process flow charts and gap analysis.

Identifying problem and opportunity areas

Identifying opportunities for business, efficiency, and operations improvement should be done using the information gathered in the analysis of business performance, problem identifying tools such as problem trees, employee surveys and lean manufacturing audit.

Identifying the right tools and concepts to apply to opportunity areas

There are many lean terms, techniques, and concepts which can help address a vast array of performance issues in manufacturing, service industry, and office environments.Some of these tools and concepts are similar to operations consulting tools.

Identifying the resources needed to achieve results

Without the appropriate resources the lean or operations team will not be able to achieve their goals. Resources can be in different forms such as human, financial capital, and knowledge resources.

Devise a strategy and plan including setting goals

The continuous improvement strategy and goals must be set in accordance to business and operations performance objectives. Achieving a sustainable competitive advantage should be the ultimate goal of the business. SMART goals help establish and communicate what needs to be achieved effectively.

Execute strategy

Strategy execution is the DO component and the most important part in the implementation of lean.

Evaluate strategies and results

Evaluation of the progress and results achieved is integral to the overall success in achieving a lean enterprise. There will be times where initiatives and strategies may need to be altered, or rethought to bring performance back on track to achieving the businesses objectives. The reality is that most businesses will employ different resources and strategies to implement lean manufacturing; they will have different drivers and motivators and will thus have different ways of doing things. The implementation of lean can be aided by lean consultants or operations consultants as part of a continuous improvement program aimed at improving business performance, efficiency and cost control

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