Improving Business Processes
The History of Lean Manufacturing
When people begin to talk about Lean Manufacturing they normally associate it with Toyota Production and Henry Ford Motors but there is in fact a very long and varying history depending on how you look at Lean. The idea of having interchangeable parts was not a new concept many ideas he utilised from Eli Whitney’s Principles used to Manufacture Muskets in the 1700s, in 1574 King Henry the Third used production lines to produce Galley ships on an hourly basis through continuous flow processing and then used again Marc Brunel for the Royal Navy in the 19th Century. You could look back at the work of Frederick Taylor Scientific Management technique and how t
he sought to organize and de-skill the workforce to provide an efficient mass production system and say that this is where lean began. The problem with the approach now was that it was an approach that sought to separate the thinking management from the masses whose job it was to implement their instructions. The principles were sound but they focused very much only on efficiently and cost reduction. Lean has had several names of the years, developed primarily from Toyota Production Systems or continuous Flow Manufacturing but commonly known today as Lean Six Sigma of Agile Manufacturing.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Although the basic model was introduced more than 100 years ago, it has continued to evolve over time. The concepts, in addition to a multitude of others, have come together to formulate what we know today as Lean Manufacturing. The core idea behind Lean Manufacturing is maximising customer value while minimising waste, thereby achieving manufacturing excellence through the creation of more value with fewer resources. Waste is defined as an activity that does not add value to the product. Put succinctly, Lean is the systematic approach to eliminating waste from processes so that every part of the process adds value to the customer. Implementing lean manufacturing, proper application of its principles, can help any company survive in these difficult financial times. It is a system that can be used not only in production areas but any other area that you are looking to optimize. It is imperative that you have top-down and bottom-up support and involvement. It is a method that improves processes through continuous improvements and eliminating waste. Although developed mainly within Manufacturing, it is equally as effective within Office Administrative functions.
Tools of Lean
Lean manufacturing includes a set of principles that lean thinkers use to achieve improvements in productivity, quality, and lead-time by eliminating waste through kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word that essentially means "change for the better" or "good change." The goal is to provide the customer with a defect free product/service when it is needed and in the quantity, it is needed. There are many tools and concepts that lean...