Lean in 60 Seconds – Lean Manufacturing
You could spend hours, days or weeks picking up books about Lean but like us, I doubt you have that kind of time right now. Therefore we want to make this super quick and easy.
And as Mr Taiichi Ohno said (Chairman of Toyota Motors) …
“All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that timeline by removing the non-value-added wastes”.
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So what is Lean?
The Lean Timeline
Any business activity starts when the customer places an order for the product or service. Our goal is to turn that request into cash. We want to turn that order into a delivered service or product in the best, cheapest and most efficient way possible.
Lean therefore is the idea that we want to reduce every activity … yes, I mean every activity … which slows down or increases the costs to deliver that service to the customer. Every activity which does not add direct value to the customer or in other words, the customer is not willing to pay for, is by definition Muda.
Every step or activity which does not add value to the end product is Muda (waste). Lean is firstly about identifying what is important to the customer and then figuring out the most efficient way to deliver what the customer wants.
In order to continually identify every non-value-adding step and figure out how to improve things, Lean believes we need everyone’s help across the entire organisation. It is not the quality department’s job to find improvements, but there is a team responsible for continuous improvement.
The final part of the puzzle is Kanban. As you go through the course you will begin to understand that one of the core Lean Principles is to reduce the work in progress at all times. When you have lots of unfinished activities, things basically slow down – just like when you have too much to do, it feels like nothing actually gets done. Kanban is the idea of how we manage the work we are doing to limit as much as possible what is actually being worked on. This naturally gives us a few benefits:
By delivering what the customer wants quicker, we reduce the order to cash timeline.
Holding lots of unfinished products costs money. Raw materials cost money and people’s time invested in unfinished products cost money too.
We don’t want to produce too much – doing this increases our costs and perhaps the customer is not willing to pay.
The Lean Challenge
As you can see from this graphic, Lean is based on the concept that
Every business wants to run as efficiently as possible
Every business needs to produce exactly what the customer wants when they want it
And to achieve this must work together to remove every activity which does not directly add value to the customer.
So ask yourself daily:
“Would the customer be willing to pay for what I am doing?”