Making a move to ‘lean thinking’ creates an entirely new attitude throughout the entire organisation. It will result in numerous positive impacts and create a feeling of ‘let’s not stop there’.
A set of tools and methodology guided by lean principles, the key emphasis in Lean Manufacturing is the elimination of waste, particularly Non-Value Added (NVA) activities – those that take time and/or resources, but do not add to the customer value.
Continuous Improvement challenges the status quo and asking the question, ‘is there a better way’. In other words, reaching for perfection.
The Five Principles of Lean:
1. Value (Value Added Activity)
The determination of which features create value in a product is made from both internal and external customer standpoints. Value is expressed in terms of how the specific product or service meets the customers’ needs, at a specific time or at a specific price.
2. Value Stream
The entire sequence of activities across all parts of the organisation involved in delivering the product or service. This represents the end-to-end process that delivers value to the customer. These activities can be Value-Added or Non-Value Added.
- Value Added Activities: An activity that transforms or shapes (for the first time) material or information to meet customer value.
- Non-Value Added Activities: Activities that do not contribute value to the product or service (as seen by the customer). By clearly defining Value for a specific product or service from the end customer’s perspective, all non-value activities can be targeted for removal.
Flow is the uninterrupted movement of product or service through the system to the customer. Once non-value added activities (Wastes) are identified and removed from the process the product or service will FLOW through the value-added activities and to the customer.
Pull is about understanding the customer demand on your service and then creating your process to respond to this. That is, you produce only what the customer wants when the customer wants it.
Flow and pull are created and established but do not stop there. Continuously look at making efforts to remove non-value added activities, improve flow and satisfy customer delivery.
While Lean focuses on removing waste, improving flow and continuous improvement, it also has other advantages. Quality is improved. The product spends less time in process, reducing the chances of damage or obsolescence. Simplification of processes results in reduction of variation. As the organisation looks at all the activities in the value stream, the system constraint is removed and performance is improved.
Lean involves many people in the value stream. Transitioning to flow thinking causes vast changes in how people perceive their roles in the organisation and their relationship to the product. The organisation must be ready to accept and deal with change and understand different people will take on change at different paces.
Their strength lies in the fact that they can be trusted as a partner – when they say they are going to do something, they do it! – They make things happen."