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|The Power of Lean Thinking|
|Written by Kek Sei Wee|
|Thursday, 16 April 2009 09:22|
The one word of Japanese you should know is muda. This refers to "waste", or simply any activity that requires resources but generates no value.Â You see this in inventory pile ups, mistakes that require rework, redundant processing steps, movement of employees and transport of materials and goods, workers waiting for their next activity, goods and services that do not meet the needs of the customer; the list goes on. Even for the most casual observer in any organization, muda can be seen everywhere.
Fortunately, the power antidote to muda lies in lean thinking, it allows more to be done with less, while better meeting the voice of the customer. Lean thinking provides a way to convert muda into value. The first step in the lean thinking process is specifying value. Value is defined by the ultimate customer and is expressed in terms of the product or service that meet the customer's needs at a specific price at a specific time (what the customer is willing to pay for). Even producing the wrong product or service the right way is considered muda. We will then need to identify the value stream, which is the set of specific actions required to produce a certain product or service. Analysis of the value stream will surface three types of actions (1) steps that create value (2) steps that do not create value but are necessary and unavoidable (3) steps that do not create value and are immediately avoidable. This must also go beyond the firm, across suppliers and vendors, to look that the entire set of activities in creating and product the specific product; this results in a lean enterprise, a confluence of all concerned parties to create an entire value stream. Once value is defined, the value stream identified and the waste eliminated, the next crucial step is in making the remaining value added steps flow. This involves changing the perspective from the traditional aggregated process of batch and queue to a one-piece continuous flow of value adding activities. The visible effect of this is that the overall lead time will fall dramatically and allows firm to better accommodate shifting demands. This means sales forecast can be thrown and companies can make what the customers tell they need; that is, customers pull the product from the firm instead of the firm pushing products onto the customer. This forth principle of lean thinking is a powerful concept and goes far in reducing unnecessary and costly work-in-progress inventory.
The theory and concept behind lean thinking is not difficult to grasp. But the most difficult part is in overcoming the inertia present in any organization. There are many lessons from successful transformations that point to having the right leaders with the right knowledge and belief, being able to create dramatic changes in the ways routine things are done daily, and critical change agent to take on the challenge and lead the campaign in introducing a truly fundamental change. In Achilles, our professional consultants can provide on-going assistance to our clients to integrate lean thinking principles in your operations. We create systems and develop techniques that meet the specific requirements of each client, regardless of your industry, product, or location.Â
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 December 2009 11:42|