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What Does it Mean to be Lean?

What Does it Mean to be Lean?

There are many factors that go into running a successful business. Once an entrepreneur reaches a certain level of achievement they are motivated to expand. There are several variables that play into taking a startup company to the next level. It is an exciting time for an organization, but it is also a risky period as well. Company leaders must consider each possible scenario when looking to push for growth.

What is Lean

Lean is designed to deliver value from the customers perspective, eliminate waste, and continuously improve organizational processes. In other words, Lean means an emphasis on brains rather than brawn via utilization of technology and practical application of proven modes of operation. The decision to use Lean tools and Lean processes is, in theory, a decision to function tighter and as a result, be more profitable over time.

Use Lean Tools for Manufacturing

Lean management can have a tremendous impact on the way a company does business. It is based on four basic concepts. These concepts are known as Pull, One-Piece Flow, Tact and Zero Defects. Pull is designed to minimize overproduction, inventory. and working capital by pulling products through the production process. One-Piece Flow focuses on executing one piece of business at a time. This process reduces interruptions and wait time while increasing quality and flexibility. Tact is an important part of the Lean system. It sets the speed at which the manufacturing process should operate to meet consumer demand. Zero Defects is the concept of not passing defects on to the consumer. Mistakes must be kept in-house. These are the four basic principles that are designed to keep a company operating as efficiently as possible while remaining ahead of its competition

Successful Lean Manufacturing Companies

Lean management has found its way into many different industries around the world. Japan uses the word Kaizen, which simply means to do something better, as the concept to operate in the most efficient manner possible. Kaizen has been applied to every sort of business from computer manufacturing to sandwich-making. The idea was originally born in the automobile industry when consumer demand required that products be produced quickly and with zero defects. The Kaizen approach is often implemented without any need for the purchase of new equipment.

Fukasawa Denko Co LTD is an assembly line manufacturer that refined its tool storage processes. Each workstation is formatted so that the tools are in their designated place. Once a worker has performed in this arena for a sufficient amount of time they automatically remember where each piece of equipment is located. They are then able to access it without any hassle or thought. SandSand Co LTD is a sandwich making factory that reorganized its process after noticing that there was an issue with production at the bread cutting station. The linear flow was changed to small groups of workers completing batches of sandwiches. The new method greatly increased production and reduced man-hours.

Lean management can be applied to any type of business organization. Many business leaders find that developing the most time-efficient processes makes it easier for others to assist them with the work that they are trying to accomplish. Remaining focused on quality, lead time, and cost will ensure that an organization is maintaining a Lean operation that will eliminate the types of occurrences that impede growth.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.