Lean manufacturing is no longer a radical theory. The “lean” system, which gained a foothold in the automotive industry, has been successfully adopted by a wide range of manufacturers of other products around the world. Essentially, the system is based on the concept of minimizing waste without sacrificing productivity, taking all the relative factors into account.
But what is the “missing link” needed to sustain lean manufacturing over time? Briefly stated, you must rely on four critical elements in the quest for greater profitability: leader standard work, visual control boards, daily accountability process, and discipline. Let’s take a look at each element.
1. Leader Standard Work
Lean management requires you to break away from traditional management techniques by focusing on the manner in which you allocate your time each day. If you embrace the idea of leader standard work, you can:
- Solve problems expeditiously;
- Instinctively collaborate with others;
- Increase production numbers; and
- Pave the way for successors in the organization.
With leader standard work, you create a formula for managing the process. Start with an analysis of the main objectives, document the policies and procedures and implement the key activities. This approach requires you to concentrate on what must be done today to improve things for tomorrow.
2. Visual Control Boards
The use of visual control boards is essential to lean manufacturing. By providing a running scoresheet on a whiteboard or some other prominent visual display, management can track performance and inform employees of progress.
Visual control boards can further lean manufacturing through the following tasks:
- Scheduling: Show when workers are scheduled for shifts and the jobs they are performing. This organizes the workload and keeps all employees on the same page.
- Tracking: Post information about inventory on the board for all to see. Continue to update the progress through the manufacturing cycles.
- Tools: Finding where tools are located, and how they are being used, is often a problem. Identify this information on the board to be shared company-wide.
- Maintenance: List key pieces of machinery and the maintenance that is scheduled. Check off items that are completed and replace them with upcoming dates.
Of course, visual control boards may be used for other purposes besides these traditional tasks, and they must be more than mere “wallpaper.” They should be a source of daily discussions about making improvements and overcoming obstacles.
3. Daily Accountability Process
As mentioned above, daily meetings are integral to the lean process. They should be geared toward common company-wide goals. This may be achieved by linkage across several tiers of hierarchy:
- Each production team leader meets with their crew before shifts to address abnormalities.
- Supervisors then meet with production team leaders and support personnel. This meeting can pinpoint gaps in the system and provide solutions for specific problems.
- Finally, the plant manager meets with supervisors to focus on the business as a whole, as part of the “big picture” planning.
The meetings can be based around the visual control board. They should be short – no longer than 15 minutes each – and follow an agenda.
The last element needed to sustain lean manufacturing is actually a hallmark of successful leadership going back to the days of the Industrial Revolution: discipline. As one of the movers and shakers of the organization, it’s up to you to set the tone and motivate others. Lead by example in both words and deeds.
This requires strict adherence to the lean plan. Define expectations and hold employees accountable for their end of the bargain. Be honest about your own appraisal. Above all, keep your eye on the prize through good times and bad.
Register now to learn more at our April 18, 2019 program, “Lean Management Systems: Increase Efficiency & Productivity.”
In addition to learning more about the four principal elements of a Lean Management System, you’ll learn about the linkage between an organization’s culture and its management systems, and the three key questions for driving process improvement.
This presentation will take place at the offices of Goldin Peiser & Peiser, LLP. Tickets are $15 for DCMA members; $20 for general attendees. Lunch will be served. Ticket sales end on April 16th.
The presentation is being sponsored by Goldin Peiser & Peiser, LLP, Comerica Bank, and TMAC.
Space is Limited. Register Today!
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.