Lean manufacturing is underpinned by 5 principles:
- Specify what creates value from the customers perspective
- Identify all the steps along the process chain
- Make those processes flow
- Make only what is pulled by the customer
- Strive for perfection by continually removing wastes
The main driver for Lean is to compress the time period from customer order to banking payment. The way that this is achieved is by identifying and eliminating waste. In a conventional supply chain and in individual businesses, there are potentially huge amounts of different wastes, known as The 7 Wastes:
The correct application of Lean tools and techniques will show you how to peel away layer after layer of waste. Its like peeling an onion - you take away the biggest outer layers first but there's always more. 'Muda' is Japanese for waste and you'll quickly develop 'Muda' spectacles - seeing waste everywhere! Much of Lean will seem like common sense, although it certainly challenges some conventional wisdoms!
The great thing about Lean is that it is not about buying the latest piece of kit or having state of the art facilities: it's about developing a different mental approach to work. It's therefore not expensive to get started and is suitable for businesses large and small.
Lean is a journey of continuous improvement rather than a destination. Once you have taken the first steps you'll almost certainly want to continue.