There are numerous case studies about organizations that have successfully applied Lean tools and methods. These successes inspire others to deploy a Lean initiative in their organizations with varying levels of success. It is not that the Lean tools, methods, and concepts do not work, rather that they are often applied in an ad hoc manner and only sporadically. There is a sequence for creating an effective Lean deployment. It may take several years to stabilize a supply chain, although immediate cost savings, lead-time reductions, and higher quality levels are immediately seen, even with limited application of key Lean methods. But the full benefits, like pull scheduling and low inventory, require foundational work be implemented as shown in Figure 6.12.

Some key foundational work includes establishing metrics to measure operational improvements for on-time delivery (schedule attainment), increasing value-add time as a proportion of total time, increasing the throughput rate for a process (shortening the order-to-cash cycle), enabling faster machine or job changeovers (especially at bottleneck resource), increasing machine uptime (available time), improving the quality of work (reductions in scrap, rework, warranty, and returns), using less floor space through process simplification and changes to layouts, lowering inventory levels to expose operational problems, improving supplier on- time delivery, and lowering overall system cost. Other foundational work requires implementation of a takt time to create a baseline for a process from which waste can be systematically eliminated, and improvements in process simplification, standardization, mistake-proofing, bottleneck management, transfer batching, and mixed-model scheduling can be made. It is important that an organization determine the best scheduling rules and algorithms to manage their processes. These scheduling systems could be manual or automated based on the process. Scheduling will always be easier if the workflow has been optimally configured and Lean tools and methods are applied to simplify and standardize its operations. Finally, we discussed useful methods for reducing process waste: the eight wastes, 5-Why analysis, 5-S, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), and mistake-proofing.


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