Simply stated, the term “lean process” refers to identifying opportunities for improvement, implementing changes, and measuring the impact of those changes. Any industry can benefit from the lean process, but it’s not something that can be done overnight. Instead, big results come from many small changes occurring over time.
In manufacturing, lean process is about optimizing processes, decreasing production time, and eliminating waste – that is anything that doesn’t add value. There are several types of waste:
Eliminating waste using lean principles does not mean immediately focusing on removing waste. Instead, companies should identify value according to the customer. While several methods can be used, it comes down to:
Streamlining the manufacturing process can mean many things, but if often includes:
By streamlining the process, manufacturers will reduce waste, improve workflow, and increase productivity.
The foundation of the lean process is continuous improvement, which needs to be supported by every worker in the company. When everyone works together, even the smallest improvements can result in positive changes. To create a culture of continuous improvement:
For the lean process to be successful, the effort needs to be monitored. Not only should your own efforts be tracked, it’s helpful to compare your efforts to the competition. It’s important not to underestimate the amount of time required to implement a lasting lean culture. When measuring the results, consider the following methods:
A clearly defined approach for measuring your lean process efforts will provide a more complete picture and a better understanding of the results.
Lean principles, lean tools, and lean thinking can be applied to everything, including workplace safety programs. To integrate safety and lean into your company, start by identifying links between unsafe practices and the different types of waste.
Applying lean process to your company safety plan is worth the effort, and can improve teamwork, inventory management, and business relationships. It can also result in quality improvements, productivity gains, better safety awareness, and a safer workplace.
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