Lean Management

Lean Management is the process of applying continuous improvement through ongoing small changes to develop, enhance and improve an organisation’s processes going forwards.

What is Lean Management?

Lean Management is the name given to the approach where each aspect of an organisation is reviewed periodically with the intent of determining what can be improved to bring about a ‘better’ result. “Better” clearly depends on the organisation’s goals but can generally be described as meaning to achieve what the organisation is set to achieve but more efficiently, effectively and with less resource use than previously.
The purpose of the reviews is to identify areas that can be altered – however small – so as to incrementally develop the procedures, systems, skills and capabilities of both the organisation’s processes and personnel over time.
This may seem to imply that this will take a great deal of time and effort, but actually some of the more fundamental changes that are instigated, have a ripple effect that compounds the impact of the changes going forwards. Translation: a small change that impacts one area, will lead to small changes in other areas by default and in combination, the change to the overall set of procedures results in alterations that are anything but small very quickly.


What approaches are used in Lean Manufacturing?

There are five key areas that can be followed up:

  1. Customer Value – understanding what the customer is looking for when buying an organisation’s products – and consequently what will enhance or diminish this value in the customers’ eyes. Once this is known, the processes to enhance the value represented will become clearer.
  2. The Value Stream – this looks at the life cycle of the product (resource sourcing, processing (including wastes and by-products), sale, storage, use, outputs derived from use (including wastes/by-products) and disposal) with a view to understanding how the value of the product is increased or decreased at each step.
  3. Flow – this looks at the resources used throughout the process and the derived wastes. The intent is to minimise wastes (cutting costs, handling issues, storage requirements, licencing) and ideally either not producing so much waste or finding ways to convert the waste into a by-product that can be sold on or into re-using or recycling the waste to minimise the adverse effects.
  4. Pull – this relates to ensuring production is made to order, not schedule. This ensures that stockpiles and inventory do not build up – of either Work In Progress or Finished Goods. It has the knock on effect of enabling the review of the processes so that only those Raw Materials needed for immediate production should be held (ie reducing these stocks too). This evolves into what is now well known as Just-In-Time processing.  The purpose is to release the capital tied up in such stocks and reducing the wear and tear that occurs during stocks being held – either affecting quality or even wastage.
  5. Perfection – this relates to the process of addressing each stage and ensuring it is carried out as perfectly as possible. This reduces wastage, requires strong quality controls, ensures a clear procedural process with well trained and motivated staff focusing on addressing customer concerns. One well known methodology for this approach is 6 Sigma.

For example, if the source of gypsum for manufacturing plasterboard is natural it has a number of natural contaminants and reduces the remaining supply in the world while requiring mining which impacts on the local environment while providing employment. Alternatively, if the source is from man-made gypsum derived from cleaning sulphur from exhaust processes as required by legislation for some fuels, then it will be relatively pure, does not need mining and is reducing the need for some other disposal process for this material.  Thus, there are a range of value judgements here each of which can impact the choice of the “best” route to go forwards.

Similar such examples can be made at every step of the product’s life – all need to be assessed and determined. Once the options are known, the optimum choice can be made to direct the future procedures required to optimise the organisation’s results.


How do you know which is the right approach for your organisation?

The easiest way is to give us a call and we can talk through what you want to achieve – and from this we can determine, between us, the best way that will work for your organisation. Contact Us for more details.


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