What are the benfits you get from ‘Lean’? 3 practical tips how to apply it
In the past years Translas has been undergoing a lot of changes in the way we work in order to become a better company and be able to satisfy our customers in a quicker manner. Involving ‘lean thinking’ in our manufacturing process has helped us big time. Therefore, we wanted to share what ‘lean’ is and how can it be applied at your company too. It works for manufacturers as it does for retailers and, basically, all kinds of companies. Not to mention that once you start seeing the benefits of the ‘lean’ way, you might start the principle into your everyday life too.
WHAT DOES ‘LEAN’ MEAN?
Literally the meaning of ‘lean’ (when reffered to a company or an organization) means ‘efficient and with no wastage’. So, this means going through a process as quick as possible and utilizing your resources smartly so there is no waste created. Waste of what? Waste of time, waste of money, waste of material, environmental waste, etc. When you get down to the core of ‘lean’, one can say it uses a lot of common sense in a structured way.“Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.” Lean Enterprise Institute
THE CONCEPT OF ‘LEAN’
The concept of ‘lean’ by itself implies delivering customer value by optimizing processes in the company in order to increase company prosperity. How can you deliver faster the product to the customer? How can you provide the best service to the customer? Therefore, lean focuses on the customer needes; thus, is a customer-centric approach.
The concept is not applicable only to manufacturing, but also to services and many other aspects of daily activities, as we mentioned earlier.
THE ‘HOUSE OF LEAN’
The picture of the House of Lean aims to visualize the sequence in which the processes are applied. The idea is that first a stable base needs to be created before the tools are applied. After applying those ‘lean tools’ the goal of creating value for the customer is reached.
After the base is stably laid, the optimization continues in two directions (the two pillars) – optimizing the production and the quality. These steps lead to decrease in costs and better service or product delivery, which makes it more beneficial for the customer.
In later articles we will explain the different tools used by lean to achieve optimization in cost and delivery such as Kanban, which focuses on creating a smooth assembly process.
HOW TRANSLAS APPLIES ‘LEAN’? 3 PRACTICAL TIPS
For more than 3 years now Translas has been succesfully applying ‘lean’ into the production process. And, we would like to show you how we do that.
The reason why we started off the lean project was because we wanted to deliver better products as well as better service to our customers.
Our production manager – Edwin Boer – is the head of the project who is responsible for its physical implementation. “It took one year to completely introduce the lean system into our working process but ‘lean’ is not just a project you start and you are done with in a certain period; ‘lean’ is a continuous process.”
1.Outsource: If you want to implement ‘lean’, the first step is to ask for an external advice. This is what Translas did. This is neccessary to make sure someone gives the right tips and advice and training to the staff. Having a person from the outside who is especially brought in to follow the process, makes sure that the implementation has been carefully followed and people are constantly reminded and motivated to follow the lean principles of work.
2.Engage all departments: ‘Lean’ is most of the time associated with process improvement in the production part of an organization. However, ‘lean’ is a way of thinking and it can be introduced in every department of an organization – marketing, finance, etc. Translas started with the production and assembly department and it went off to the rest of the departments; all of them are situated in our headquarter in the Netherlands. After fully implementing it in the production department, now we are focusing more on the rest of the organisation and hoping to improve significantly the working process in these areas by the end of this year.
3.Visualize: As mentioned before, part of the project includes staff training into how lean works. The staff should get a very clear picture of it. This is why in our education, we used Lego games to visualize the whole process. Another physical tools that we implemented because of ‘lean’ were molds and callibration tools to improve the precision of the production and, therefore, the quality of the products. But, also, to reduce significantly the waste by cutting down on producing parts that are not suitable for use. In this way, we make sure that every part we produce is ready to use without any deffects.
The results. After the succesful implementation of ‘lean’ the results came immediately. We shortened the delivery times to our customers. Now we have a smoothly running production and assembly processes and stock levels are under control.
“Everything is produced on demand according to the just-on-time phylosophy we have embraced” – says the director Jeroen Boer.
After three years of working on ‘lean’, Translas has achieved tremendous improvements that have positively affected the relationships with our customers and we are planning to keep on implementing this way of thinking throughout the whole organization.