Abracadabra, Sim Sala Bim … and there’s Lean (1)

It’s a bit like a magic word. You still hear the magic word Lean at typical manufacturing company events. Plus, many advisors and consultancy firms use the word all too easily. In comparison to a few years ago, it isn’t used as much, but it’s still a hot topic. But exactly what is it? And why should you be Lean? Is it really so beneficial? And is your company ready for it? That’s because it does require quite a bit from your company. Lean is described as a culture change. People on the shop floor will certain be very aware of it. This means creating a particular behaviour throughout the organisation, but more importantly: awareness and an understanding of what it actually delivers. If you look up the Lean philosophy, Wikipedia states the following: Lean Manufacturing is a management philosophy that focuses on achieving maximum value for the customer with as little waste as possible. The method originates from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. Through ‘lean production’, the quality of the product increases and the costs decrease, which results in an improved operating result. That’s quite a mouthful, but actually quite comprehensive. There are many tools to make your company Lean(er). For example, the 5S programme, by means of which you can actually very simply achieve a culture of tidying and cleaning the workplace No expensive software or consultancy skills are needed for this! The gain is mainly through the savings made in terms of time. For example, hang tools back on the board, place pallets in the specifically marked locations, so that the next process can take place without more time being lost. Clearing up makes things clearer.

Another commonly applied programme is the Six Sigma programme, which enables you to embed a culture of continuous improvement. ‘Knowledge is power’ is the motto and based on statistical data (KPIs), you can ascertain where improvements have to be made. And, very importantly, continue to monitor this! You can obtain a lot of this ‘measurement data’ from your ERP system. Your ERP system will also leave space for improvement and a reduction in administration and wasted time. Some ERP systems offer KanBan solutions for this. I will soon touch on the ‘ERP & Lean’ theme again in this blog. Now, I don’t want to constantly dwell on all sorts of Lean programmes, but I do want to make it clear to you that a lot of roads lead to Rome in order to be or become Lean. This doesn’t always have to result in the purchase of expensive software applications, but in many cases can be done with the tools that you already have. We don’t have to manufacture like Toyota tomorrow, but if we can somehow benefit from their successes in process optimisation, we will do something. Of course.