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Lean Processes: Fad or realistic solution?

The implementation of lean processes is not simply a fad. We now compete in a global economy and customers have numerous choices. Success can no longer be found by producing only black Model T automobiles or building homes based on pre-designed plans, and then waiting for the customer to settle for what we have provided. Customers know what they want. They also realize that if you do not provide what they want, when they want it, at a price they are willing to pay, they can easily go elsewhere.

The foundation of lean thinking, in the simplest form, is to allow the customer to define quality and value. The organization then adds to the processes, products, or service only what the customers deem as adding value. This necessary approach requires identification of the entire value stream, from supplier to customer. Once the value stream is identified, and mapped, the never-ending pursuit of eliminating waste from the system begins.

Transition to lean: How hard can it be?

From the above paragraphs one may believe the transition is no more difficult than adding a new product line or re-engineering a process. Others feel that, by definition, lean means to do more with less and that downsizing is a key element. The most difficult challenge for lean specialists is to undo the damage done by organizational leaders that have these inaccurate perceptions. Lean thinking is an entirely new way of thinking. It contradicts nearly all of what many know about how an organization should operate.

Once you make a successful transition to lean, will you be doing more with less? Yes. Will you be downsizing? Not necessarily. Cost will be driven down tremendously; but not always by way of cutting jobs. Actually the transition often creates jobs which are more rewarding and value-adding. Costs are driven down through the elimination of waste. The results are proven and well documented. However, the implementation of lean processes is likely the most challenging task you will face and is best undertaken with the assistance of an outside specialist. Anticipate no less than a 2-year transition period. However, 5 years is not uncommon. Even so, you will begin to see immediate results if done correctly.

Lean Results:

Obviously, the primary question is “what are the benefits of implementing lean strategies”? Common results are as follows:

•        Reduces lead time by 90%
•        Doubles labor productivity
•        Improves throughput time by 90%
•        Improves quality by 85%
•        Reduces inventory by 90%
•        Reduces WIP by 90%
•        Reduces defects/scrap by 50%
•        Reduces space utilization by 50%

Is Lean Strictly for the Manufacturing Sector?:

Absolutely not. The theory and application is universal; although not fully recognized or utilized. Those, in all industries, that implement lean strategies, will be those that lead the market.

In fact, we recommend you read more about our experience in Lean Healthcare Systems

Take advantage of our free lean info session.  

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