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What are the main reasons to introduce Lean manufacturing?

One of the primary reasons for introducing Lean manufacturing techniques is to review the company’s processes and strip out those activities that don’t increase customer satisfaction, improve the product, or add efficiency. This leaves the company free to concentrate on those activities that add value. Let’s look at four ways to add value quickly.

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End-to-end streamlining

With Lean techniques, you map processes right across the company, from an order being received, to the customer-bound delivery. This view is different from the work of many experts, who concentrate on just those areas in which they have expertise – order processing, manufacturing or warehouse management. When management takes a view of the whole workflow, they often discover reworks, redundant tasks and unnecessary steps. For example, they may find that they are under-employing someone at one point in the process, and under-employing another person at another point. Obviously, it’s time to look at whether one person could carry out both functions.

This streamlining should both cut costs and speed up the process of getting products to the customer.

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Stopping wasteful practices

The Lean philosophy is big on eliminating wastefulness, with a list of nine contexts in which waste occurs. Obviously, stopping waste is a step to a more profitable company but Lean’s categorisation of waste into nine areas helps companies look at where they might be generating waste and losing money, without really realising it. The nine areas are: overproducing, processing, creativity, inventory, motion, transportation, information, quality and waiting time.

So if a company goes and purchases brand new pallet racks when actually, used pallet racking would have done just as well, that comes under the definition of a process that consumes resources without adding value and is, therefore, wasteful –

Boosting commitment in teams

Teams need to be involved in the process of analysing the company’s operations and moving to a Lean model. Their engagement in this will build more productive and closer teams. There is an opportunity here to give at least some of the teams some introductory Lean training, so that they feel they are adding to their skillset.

Continuous improvement

This is the idea that Lean is never achieved, and that there are always more ways to become leaner. Leaning the company is, therefore, a never ending job.


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