Lean manufacturing is a practice that identifies the non value added activities that is considered as waste from the perspective of the customers and focuses on eliminating them. Here customer is anyone who consumes a product or uses as service and value defines the process for which customer would be willing to pay.
Basic principle of Lean manufacturing lies in the cost reduction by eliminating wastes. Lean principles are derived from the Japanese industry and in particular from Toyota Production System. It is famous for its efforts to eliminate the original “Toyota Seven Wastes” leading to the improvement for Customer Value.
There were two different approaches to Lean Manufacturing.
(a) First approach states the need for identifying and eliminating the waste which eventually leads to the improvement in quality and reduction in cost and production time.
(b) Second approach focuses on improving the flow of work which steadily eliminates the waste from the system.
Lean manufacturing stresses on increased efficiency by focusing on optimizing flow. Waste reduction occurs naturally as a result of implementing the smooth flow. The goal of both the approaches is the same, they only differ in the way they achieve it.
Examples of the Lean tools are Value Stream Mapping, Kanban, Five S e.t.c.
Type of wastes
Lean focuses on reducing the waste and Toyota had defined three types of waste Muda, Muri and Mura. These are the Japanese words which forms the key concept in Toyota Production System.
Muda : It is a Japanese term for wasteful activity, unproductive and that does not add value. Distinction is being made between value added activity, waste and non value added activity wherein Non Value Added activity is considered as waste which must be completed.
Mura : It is a Japanese term for unevenness and inconsistency. It focuses to achieve the JIT (Just in Time) by eliminating the variations and thus ensuring smooth flow of value added steps.
Muri : It is a Japanese term for overburden and unreasonableness. It is demanding greater level of performance from a process than it is capable of.
Seven original Muda are as follows
(1) Defects : Checking for defects.
(2) Inventory : Unprocessed product
(3) Overproduction : Exceeding Demand
(4) Waiting Time : Next Step Awaiting
(5) Motion : Unnecessary human movement
(6) Transportation : Moving the products not required
(7) Processing Waste : Non Value Added activities
Just in time
Just in Time is a business improvement strategy wherein by reducing the in-process inventory and its associated costs. It requires a very effective communication so that as soon as old stock gets consumed the new stock should be ordered. It involves a process where signals are being used to keep track of the activities and stock. It helps in reducing the inventory and costs. It also save spaces of warehouses.
Is Successful Lean Implementation a Challenge
The successful implementation of Lean poses a big challenge as it requires a lot of discipline. It has been implemented in numerous organizations throughout the globe and we have examples of both success and failure, however it cannot be said with certainty that Lean implementation is applicable for a particular sector. Only Toyota has made efforts to implement Lean in its every key processes.
Product designs are developed and checklists are reviewed so that not only costs are reduced but also the risk associated with project is decreased. Companies need to reinvent themselves continuously and look for new opportunities for reducing the overall costs and improving the performance.
Leaders have played a major role in making a Lean principles a big successes in various organizations. Experienced members at Toyota have ensured that the Lean Culture should be transferred across the company and one way to do is to guide other less experienced Lean players.
Lean Services and its future
Lean Thinking has met with success in some processes of the companies across the world and there is no such evidence to prove that Lean will be successful in some countries. One of the sector which has seen widespread application of Lean is call center industry. Big challenge is to utilize Lean thinking in public Sector and lack of reference implementation would make task of strong implementation difficult.
Lean Thinking is facing few critical challenges. There is need to discover new process technologies which will suit to Lean Value creation. Application of Lean in areas related to the management of information is required. Application of Lean thinking to all business processes apart from manufacturing industries will be tough task ahead.