Contrary to misconceptions, lean manufacturing is not only for the manufacturing sector but rather can be applied in all business organizations. The basic drive behind lean manufacturing is the need to reduce wasteful practices, improve upon quality and reduce costs. These are principles that can be applied to any business model or department regardless of the industry. If applied appropriately, lean manufacturing principles have the potential to transform any organization positively.
Lean manufacturing does not take place in isolation but needs to be combined with other key components and strategies. Communication is essential as it ensures all relevant staff members are updated on the intended changes and also the goals of the strategy. All the employees should be able to tangibly take part and understand clearly their role in enforcing the changes and making improvements.
Lean manufacturing is usually a top-bottom approach. Any cultural or strategic shift in operational style starts from the top with the leaders being the most responsible. It is up to the management to devise ways of reducing wastage and cutting cost. This transformation should not be a revolution but be more gradual with well mapped out strategies to manage the resultant hiccups due to the adjustments.
The transformation should be comprehensive with no part of the organization being left out. Although the transformation can begin with one department it has to flow and be felt by every sector of the organization. The major purpose is to cut costs and all key areas of production have to be involved. Waste also has to be eradicated in the sectors playing an indirect role in production by getting rid of redundancies. Although these changes can be gradual it is crucial to create momentum so that all corners of the organization can feel it. This is not some sort of quick fix or instant coffee strategy but rather is a process that will take some time to accomplish.
Capacity building is another key component of lean manufacturing and it starts with a clear understanding of the employees’ strengths and skills. For synergy to be achieved and eradication of wastage to be accomplished, the staff should be given the appropriate training they require for certain positions within an organization.
Elimination of waste in an organization should be aimed at reducing human effort, proper utilization of space, reduction of time spent during production, reducing defects and creating customer satisfaction at all times. The basic drives behind lean manufacturing are customer satisfaction and productivity. The focus is shifting from the traditional mode of production to amore lean and efficient thinking. The results for this transformation should be measurable through customer satisfaction and retention, and also through increased productivity. Customer satisfaction can be brought forth by proper anticipation of their needs, their change in tastes and desires, as well as responding to their distinct wants. These should all be accomplished through a low cost strategy that emphasizes on perfection rather than embellishments. The transformation of an organization through lean manufacturing will not happen overnight but is a process that will continue for a lengthy time until wastage is eliminated and costs are reduced to bare minimum.
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