Who is Responsible for Lean Management in Your Organisation?

Do you want to reduce waste in your business?  So what’s stopped you so far?  Generally this is because we don’t know what to do or how to do it.  Now contrary to popular belief, Lean Management doesn’t have to be complicated and full of all ‘management jargon’.  All that’s needed to start is a commitment from the top and then get the team engaged and enthused about it.

So who should be responsible for the programme in your organisation? Well many large corporate organisations believe in having a formal structure, meetings, reports etc and in my experience this just tends to bog the whole process down in red tape. The simple answer is that every member of the team can have a healthy impact in removing waste from the organisation if they are ‘fired up’ and pointed in the right direction. The best ideas generally come from the coal face, after all these are the people that are doing the job day in, day out.

To implement, we first need to educate the team about what it is we are trying to achieve. The ‘Goal’ of a business is to reduce operational expense AND reduce inventories AND increase throughput simultaneously. Simply put ‘reduce the waste’. In what form do we see waste?

  1. Transport
  2. Waiting
  3. Over production
  4. Defects
  5. Inventory
  6. Motion
  7. Extra processing

Transport

Items are frequently picked up and put down many times throughout their process. If we truly mapped the route and distance travelled by items within the business we would find out just how much double handling is going on. Every time items are moved there is an increased opportunity for damage to occur.

Waiting

This is where people are held up from getting on with the job because either: they aren’t sure what the next step is and are waiting for instruction; maybe the previous process has not been completed or carried out in time either internally or externally; there are shortages of parts; or unbalanced workloads

Over production

A classic situation in many organisations.  To save set up costs, whilst I’m doing one I may as well do a few as this will save time later on. This action has many repercussions like increasing the amount of money we have tied up in inventory, the consumption of raw materials, the cost of the labour to produce the extra and extra storage costs.

Defects

If we do work without the ‘right first time’ approach there are increased costs to the business.  We have to rework the process a second time or scrap off the work already done.  Maybe we would have to go through a concession type process either internally or externally within the business and along with this if the situation goes outside the business we have to deal with the potential harm to our reputation.  All these factors will increase costs within the business.

Inventory

This is similar to over production.  Money has been tied up in producing.  The extra produced is always at risk of damage. Floor space has to be found to store it all and generally means the work area becomes cluttered and now more difficult to work in. Some of the work done could become obsolescent if customers requirements change and of course there’s always the management information system that needs to be kept up to date to track and control all that’s been made for both logistical and accounting purposes.

Motion

Firstly there is unnecessary movement of people doing the work.  Have what they need easily to hand to save them leaving their workstation to go and get essential parts/information/equipment that they need. There is the old chestnut of one piece at a time production over batch production.  Most people intuitively believe that batch production is much more effective, however unless there is a very large set up cost involved one piece production can be proven to be the most cost effective.

Extra processing

We should always study what is actually going on in our organisation as often there are many processes that are not adding value to anyone.  If asked why it’s being done, the response is often, ‘I’m not sure, it’s how I was taught to do it when I joined’.  Sound familiar?

Once our team is educated and knows what to look out for we can then get them to go back into their work space and challenge themselves and others around them as to where the waste is and start to eradicate it.  As with all of these types of initiatives they are easily started and early results gained, but like so many they quickly fall by the wayside when things get busy, so putting in a system to ensure that the good work is maintained is the key to success.

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