What is Lean?
Lean is a customer-centric methodology that focuses on improving the process on a continuous basis. The lean principle concentrates on minimizing the waste. In simple words, a lean principle is a process that focuses on continuous process improvement and maximizing customer value with less resource utilization. The lean principle aims to provide perfect value to the customer by devising a flawless process that keeps wastage of resources at bay. Lean principles can be applied to manufacturing as well as service sectors. In this article, we will be focusing on how lean principles can be applied in manufacturing sectors.
When Lean Principles are applied to the manufacturing sector, these principles ensure that the there is a continuous flow of products and materials to improve the operating performance of an organization. One of the main pre-requisite for introducing lean principles in manufacturing sector is to identify and eliminate waste that occur during the manufacturing process. This waste can be in any form, it can be an activity, steps or process which does not add any value to the end user or customer.
The following paragraphs include information on Lean Principles:
This principle is the most important principle in lean principles. Value creation focuses mainly on the end product the customer receives. It is very vital that the end product meets the customer expectations. It should stay upto the mark with the quality standards and within the budget as stated by the client and must be delivered to the customer as specified or agreed upon. In simple terms, the value is created by offering products that are cost effective, and that meet quality standards and delivered on time.
Creating A Value Stream
Value stream can be created by re-engineering all the steps and processes involved in producing a product. While performing value stream analysis, it is important to identify three steps, that is inclusions of steps or processes that create value, exclusions of processes and steps that don't create any value, and finally steps that has to be excluded from the process, but cannot be removed due to existing production methods.
This is one of the important principles of lean, as this stage forces the transition of the production process from traditional to the lean production process. In this new process, the work functions of departments and firm is redefined, so that they can make a positive contribution. This new work mechanism also addresses the issues and needs of the employees at every production stage for a smoother flow in the production.
In this stage, organizations have to decide if they want to stick to the Push or Pull Process. Push refers to forecast based production and on the contrary Pull refers to demand-based production. While deciding on the two mechanisms, Lean practitioners must consider the organization production structure. If the lean practitioner is willing to go ahead with Pull strategy then they have to ensure that the product reaches to the customer in time and also meet the quality standards.
This is also one of the important lean principles. Lean practitioners must ensure that this principle is effectively implemented within their organization along with other lean principles. Employees of an organization must respect their fellow employees or colleagues, that creates a harmonious work atmosphere. Respecting people is one key principle that has to be executed effectively by the lean practitioner in order to properly implement Lean.
After implementing lean principles, such as perfectly specifying the value, re-engineering the entire value stream, employing certain steps for particular products for continuous flow, and implementing pull strategy, which allows customers pull maximum value from the organization, lean practitioners notice that despite implementing all the lean principle there is still scope for improvement in production process. The organizations can also provide special training to their staff members, which gives them a better understanding about the lean manufacturing processes and also helps them to improve their production abilities. The management must also provide assistance and mentor their staff members in order to achieve better results through lean principles. Employees must be encouraged by the management and take their suggestions and views and design new methods to improve product quality and service to the end consumer.