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Lean on a Small Scale

Lean on a Small Scale

If you have been in the manufacturing or automotive arena, you will not have been able to escape the cry of the ‘Lean evangelists’ and the drive to reduce waste.

This has been typified by the Toyota automotive company and the Toyota Production System (TPS) which has been at the forefront of the Lean process for decades.

Lean, can however, be applied on a much smaller scale and here are a few things you can consider to start implementing Lean principles yourself.

But what actually is the Lean process?

Lean is a change in culture that looks to create capacity and increases production through the elimination of waste.

To benefit from the Lean approach, we need to change our outlook and focus on the long term performance.

We must strive for – High Quality Output
At the – Lowest Cost Possible
While delivering – On Time

In the Lean philosophy, activities are either Value Added or Non Value Added.

So we maximize the output of our activities we need to focus on the Value Added activities and  reduce the Non Value Added activities.

The five basic principles of Lean:

1.    Value – as the customer or user would see it.
2.    Value Stream – the steps in the process.
3.    Flow – the activities have no hold ups, stops or barriers to overcome.
4.    Pull – activities are undertaken ‘on demand’.
5.    Perfection – strive for continuous improvement.

To continually improve our performance, Lean Style, means to remove all waste from the value stream.

No matter the area we work in or the profession we have, there will be waste.  The Lean process looks to reduce that waste to a minimum.

But first you need to find it!

The Lean process identifies several kinds of waste:

1.    Unworkable plans or too much workload (negative impact on people’s morale).
2.    Over-production (doing too much too soon and then storing the output).
3.    Excessive inventory or too large of a batching.
4.    Queuing time where people and products are ‘waiting’.
5.    Redundant processing and un-necessary work.
6.    Transportation and the wasted effort in the unnecessary movement of stuff.
7.    Unnecessary motion or people in the processing of stuff.
8.    Rework from errors or defective outputs.
9.    Wasted talent and creativity.

To identify and reduce waste in any process or production method, we must adopt a few new disciplines.  In fact 5 + 1 new disciplines:

5+1 ’S’s:

1.    Sort – get rid of that which isn’t needed.
2.    Straighten – Organise what still belongs.
3.    Scrub – Clean up and identify and fix what increases the friction in the process.
4.    Standardise – Make processes simple and standard so that they are easy to perform and to train people to do.
5.    Safety – Identify and resolve any unsafe conditions.
6.    Sustain – Having done the first five ’S’s keep doing it.

An early stage in the Lean process is to identify how you are adding value for the customer.

This is known as the Value Stream Analysis (VSA)

The undertake a VSA we need to follow the following basic steps:

1.    Map the steps in the process.
2.    Analyse the map, identifying the way in which components can be made with less waste.
3.    Restructure the process so that the waste is removed.
4.    Implement the new process structures.

The Visual Workplace:

To allow your team to measure and assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes they are undertaking, have a way of displaying the statistics relating to that process.

Visual boards identify activity very quickly and are both illustrative of performance and motivating at the same time.

Standardisation of Work:

By standardising work, any operator has a ‘step by step’ procedure to follow so they can carry out the activities as efficiently as possible with a minimal of training.  Think of this as a recipe to follow to complete the task.

3 elements are involved in developing standardised work:

1.    TAKT time which is Available Working Time divided by Customer Demand Quantity.
2.    Work sequence.
3.    Standard Work in progress (the minimum quantity to complete a work sequence).

Creating 1-Piece Flow:

Aim to undertake a activity so that 1 piece of product completed at a time.  Arrange value-adding steps in a sequence so that there is no waiting and no piles between the steps.

The Pull Approach:

To allow each stage of the process to operate efficiently, a Pull system should be established.  This means that demand from the customer will trigger the activity in a process ensuring that no part completed products are sat waiting in a store.

If you begin to apply some of these basic Lean procedures you will start to build a culture of continuous improvement and begin to reap the benefits of the reduced waste and higher quality output for minimal cost.

Reference: Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

Dare to Aspire

One thought on “Lean on a Small Scale

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