Strategies You Need to Successfully Implement Lean Methodologies

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Lean manufacturing has become one of the most popular methodologies for improving a range of complicated manufacturing processes. For lots of companies today, lean methodologies are an enticing prospect due to the fact they eliminate wasteful processes and focus on delivering very high levels of value to the customer. Lean's core principles are designed to reduce unnecessary waste and costs by directing you to only produce the things that customers are willing to pay for.

However, before implementing lean manufacturing in a business, it is important to understand that these methodologies do not come without their own set of challenges. In the US alone, there is a failure rate of seventy percent, making it clear to see that without the right strategies, it can be difficult to be successful when implementing these methods.

Many failures are the result of misalignments between the methodologies and the company in which they are applied. It's also crucial to consider the impact of any challenges that are faced throughout the process of implementation. This could range from the overall cost of implementing the transition to lean manufacturing, the need to consistently and constantly improve afterward, and in some cases, resistance to change from the people within the organization itself.

All of these challenges are common, and they can easily cause problems with the efforts, or even lead to a complete failure if they are not dealt with effectively and quickly. So, if you want to implement lean methodologies in your business, what are some of the main things to keep in mind?

 

Implement Lean Gradually

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when you transition to lean manufacturing is attempting to do it all at once. It's a good idea to consider getting professional advice such from a company like Supply Velocity, which can advise on methodologies like Six Sigma consulting, and then work together with them to help you gradually implement lean principles in your workplace.

Gradual implementation of lean principles tends to work out much better than trying to make a massive change all at once. So, begin a lean transition by focusing on a single team rather than the entire business. This will allow you to reduce the risk of an unsuccessful implementation of lean principles and minimize the disruption to the business and teams within it as everybody gets used to using these new methodologies in smaller phases rather than a huge change all at once.

Transitioning to lean one step at a time gives you and your teams the time necessary to understand the steep learning curve that often comes along with it. When you roll out lean methodologies gradually, this allows you to get a better understanding of how the change is impacting your organization, allowing you to deal with issues as they arise for a better chance of success.

 

Track Performance

For the implementation of lean principles to run as smoothly as possible, one of the most important things that you should be doing is tracking performance continuously. Many organizations that successfully transition to using lean principles will focus on analytics, collecting data on each step of the process that is later studied and analyzed to see how well things are working. Before you embark on a transition to lean methodologies, it is worth setting up a variety of key performance indicators that you can use as goalposts. This allows you to determine whether the change to using lean principles is reaching company goals and heading in the right direction.

 

Identify Waste and Value

Spending time recognizing the difference between reducing waste and adding value in your company is one of the first things that you should do to prepare for a successful implementation of lean methodologies in your company. To do this successfully requires those at the top to conduct an objective, thorough examination of the current system that your business is using.

Some lean-based tools can be used to make it easier for you to visualize how both value and waste reach the customer. This can include a Present State Value Stream Map, which is used to outline how your operations are currently, and a Future State Value Stream Map, which is a tool that you can use to determine what your operation's goals are for the future and where you hope the company to go in the future as a result of implementing lean principles and strategies.

 

Encourage Collaboration

Working with cross-functional teams from a range of different departments is one of the main aspects of lean principles. In lean, it's important to collaborate between teams to complete a project and make sure that each member of the team is on the same page when it comes to the required work. It's important to encourage as much collaboration as possible between teams by creating more opportunities for teams to get to know one another, learn more about the work that each one focuses on, and work together. Kaizen Activities are an ideal option for doing this. These monthly improvement projects can be a great way to encourage teams to work together when they would not normally get the chance to do so.

 

Focus on Improving Continually

Once lean has been successfully implemented across value streams, the next step is to ensure that the good habits that you have built during the transition period are continued. Continuous improvement and learning are one of the most essential aspects of a successful lean transition in your organization. It's important to understand that it is a continual process, rather than one that has a final ‘goal' in terms of removing and reducing waste in order to ensure that more value is delivered to the customer. Instead, it's important to ensure that waste elimination is an operation that is focused on continuously. This is because, in any company, there is always the risk that new, wasteful processes will emerge and require correction.

 

Provide the Necessary Resources

When transitioning to lean manufacturing for your business, it's important to ensure that everybody in the business has unrestricted access to the resources that are required for them to do their job well. Along with this, it's also crucial to ensure that everybody can access these resources safely and easily. One good way that many businesses do this is to conduct a daily walkabout, with each department or team making goals and objectives clear. As a result of this, executives and other upper management staff can get more information on what these teams need to ensure that objectives and goals are made. Getting regular feedback from teams is also a good way to find out more about what the people in your business think about the resources they have access to, if they are being effectively provided, and if guidance and support are necessary.

 

Benefits of Implementing Lean Methodology

Once you've put in the hard work to successfully implement lean methodology in your business, there are many benefits to be had. Some of the main ways that companies might benefit from implementing lean strategies in the business and changing to this way of doing things include:

 

Better Productivity

Both physical waste and wasteful processes are eliminated upon a successful lean methodology implementation. This might include producing products surplus to requirements, collecting unnecessary or unused data, reducing idle time caused by slow systems, or reducing time wasted locating equipment or tools. As a result of this, teams and individual employees can become more productive at work, due to the freeing up of time.

 

Boost Responsiveness and Flexibility

Lean methodologies help to streamline operational processes. As a result of this, it becomes easier to ensure that your business is meeting customer demands promptly. With a successful implementation of lean methodologies, your company will be in a position where you can provide customers with more confidence in your business to provide them with the product that they need, at the right time.

 

Improve Product Quality

In manufacturing, lean principles being successfully implemented in the business can lead to higher product quality. With traditional manufacturing methods, it's not uncommon to get to the end of the process only to find that a small error has caused serious quality problems that now need to be rectified. Due to the iterative nature of lean manufacturing, small problems are often spotted and dealt with earlier, producing a better-quality final product.

 

Avoid Defects and Errors

Defects and errors can happen in any process. However, with lean principles applied throughout the production timeline, this can significantly reduce the risk of these occurring. This is once again down to the iterative nature of lean manufacturing, which allows you to deal with errors and mistakes as they arise, rather than only finding out about them later when they have led to more serious issues.

Lean principles and methodologies are becoming more and more popular for companies in all industries around the world, particularly in manufacturing. However, making the change can be a huge step for businesses, so it's important to ensure that the approach has the right strategies. 

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