Introduction to Lean
Lean is about efficiently delivering value to your clients with the help of minimum organizational resources. The goal of a lean organization is to create and continuously enhance the customer value by mitigating waste from its processes and procedures. For your team and your processes, it means working smarter and not harder. Lean techniques like Value Stream Mapping, 5s, and Poka Yoke could all be used to improve the cost, quality, and delivery of service to your customer.
Why Lean is Important?
The Lean Philosophy
The lean philosophy is based on focusing all the efforts and resources in creating value added activities for the end customers by eliminating, unevenness and overburden. Lean is about just-in-time processing. The materials, information, work arrives just as it is needed. There is as little stockpiling ahead of time as possible. In a manufacturing environment, it means that the raw materials arrive at the plant just as they are needed. They are then unloaded and moved to the assembly line as quickly and in as short a path as possible. Moreover, the movement of raw materials in between different processes is designed in such a manner to avoid any waiting time and over-piling of work in process. The goal of lean is to avoid having resources sitting around waiting to be used and to have as little output as possible beyond what customers have ordered.
Steps for a Lean Project
The organizations can follow the following steps for fostering lean philosophy within the organization:
- Specify the requirements of the customer value. The organizations can define and establish the customer value using the tools like
- Identification and elimination of muda from the value stream of each product family: In this step, the value stream of each product family, and the value added steps as well as non- value added activities needs to be identified. The organization must look for steps to eliminate the wastage and non- value added activities so as to focus on enhancing customer value.
- Focus should be given on shortening the throughput times by creating a flawless and continuous flow among the value- added activities and processes. One technique that can be utilized by the organizations is to create one- piece flow.
- Design a pull value system in which a signal is originated by the customer demand and accordingly the tools are available to be moved to the next process in the sequence. It means that the material flow between different processes is dictated by the customers’ demand. A simple example of pull lean manufacturing system is the coffee made at Starbucks. Starbucks never make the finished coffee in advance but begins the process only when the customers’ demands are initiated. All the steps in making the coffee begin only after the demand is signaled from the customer. If Starbucks produce coffee in advance thinking about shortening of the waiting lines in peak hours that would be highly costly and impractical for the company.
Following these steps would help the organization reach high levels of efficiency and effectiveness by delivering enhanced customer value and mitigating muda (waste).
Origins of Lean
The “Big Picture” was created by Womack. All about VALUE!
Great LEAN Six Sigma Presentation by MIT
A Lean Framework.
Good Lean Video from ASQ
Recommended Lean Reading List:
- Lean Thinking: All businesses must define the “value” that they produce as the product that best suits customer needs. The leaders must then identify and clarify the “value stream,” the nexus of actions to bring the product through problems solving, information management, and physical transformation tasks. Next, “lean enterprise” lines up suppliers with this value stream. “Flow” traces the product across departments. “Pull” then activates the flow as the business re-orients towards the pull of the customer’s needs. Finally, with the company re-engineered towards its core value in a flow process, the business re-orients towards “perfection,” rooting out all the remaining muda (Japanese for “waste”) in the system.
- The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: Blends Lean and Six Sigma tools and concepts, providing expert advice on how to determine which tool within a “family” is best for different purposes. Packed with detailed examples and step-bystep instructions, it’s the ideal handy reference guide to help Green and Black Belts make the transition from the classroom to the field.
ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt Exam Lean Questions
Question: A system that delivers products or services at the correct time and in the correct quantities is referred to as: (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)
Answer: Just-in-time. That just-in-time system is the ultimate goal of Lean; a process with zero waste. Takt time is a calculation used to synchronize supply with demand. You have to use a Takt time calculation to achieve Just-in-time production, but it’s not the best answer. Kaizen is a system for incremental improvement. Single-piece flow is a process for producing a finished product in a streamlined fashion.