Lean Manufacturing Principles
There are five fundamental lean principles on which the entire lean concept is based. Lean in this case is about improving the efficiency of the organization to limit waste and make the most of the available resources. Lean manufacturing is applied by most organizations that seek a competitive advantage which involves reducing operational costs without compromising on the quality of the products or services. Lean manufacturing considers the policies and practices within the organization, redefining them to accommodate perfection in relation to organizational operations. The lean principles discussed in this paper include value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection.
As a lean principle, value means the customer’s needs in relation to a specified product. For example, in the fast food industry, value would be considered in the context of how good the food is, how clean the setup is, how fast the service, is and how high the prices are. The value is defined as how well the product under examination is designed and produced to meet the customer’s needs. Companies have to consider the value to be relevant to their consumers. A fast food chain would, for example, be irrelevant if they had bad food, slow service, or unacceptable ambiance regarding the setup. Their customers mainly need a place where they can get good food in a clean environment and at a good price. Without these factors, the company loses meaning to the consumers. To create this value, the company discussed must understand the consumer well enough to invest in the right value determinants confidently (Plenert 180). In some markets, customer service is considered to be the most outstanding value for the customers while in others the quality of the products or services matters more. It thus simply depends on the specific market within which the particular organization operates. A company that fully understands the value concept attracts many customers since it provides exactly what the customers need.
This principle is about delivering the value to the client. Under value stream, the company is required to determine all the activities that they must indulge in to deliver the end product to the consumer. This process often starts with product design, where the company must determine the best design that would suit the needs of the consumers. Other activities along the value stream include procurement, administration, HRM, and customer service as well as production. It can be noted as undervalue stream that the company’s role is to organize the entire manufacturing process so that the management fully understands what is required to deliver their products or services to the consumers. Establishing the entire business operation is necessary because it gives the management the ability to follow their production process through every step, thus being able to identify where challenges may arise (Byrne & Womack 13). This information is very critical when there are changes that must be made to improve the quality of the product or the efficiency of the company’s business processes. Under value stream, the management also gets to identify all steps that do not contribute to the company’s definition of value, thus eliminating them to focus on processes that impact the company’s profit. A strong value stream effectively limits organizational operations only to processes that improve the company’s ability to meet the customer’s needs and expectations within the expected time frame.
The flow principle of lean management is a mode of operation that business adopts to hasten the supply chain processes. The flow principle is about creating seamless operations within the organization. After eliminating business processes that do not contribute to the organization’s success, the management can focus on the effective steps that have an actual impact on their operations (Plenert 146). As such, there will be a need to connect the remaining business processes effectively eliminating gaps and delays that could undermine the value or increase the operational costs. The flow principle is critical because it connects all the moving parts, thus making the organization operate seamlessly for better outcomes. When the flow principle is successful, the organization can design and manufacture its goods within the shortest time possible when seeking to meet market demands. Therefore, each business process is effectively coordinated to enable a smooth flow of the products from the design lab to the end consumer in the market. This often implies working with all the relevant stakeholders from the product research and design team to the suppliers, the production crews, the marketers, and the distributors to deliver the product smoothly to the market. A smooth flow is also very critical in ensuring that the product gets to the customer in good shape and the desired quality. Understanding each step that the product is taken through ensures that all protective measures are applied to prevent damages while also ensuring the fastest and shortest possible route to the consumers.
Pull and Perfection
The pull principle is about making it possible for the company to meet the demand of the customers in a short time. When the company’s operational flow is smooth, the time taken to manufacture products and deliver them to the market is effectively shortened (Plenert 124). This means that the customers start receiving freshly made products. With this ability, the company can eliminate high inventories and long-term storage costs as it only manufactures what is needed in the market at a given moment. Under perfection, the company is expected to keep evaluating and adjusting its business processes until all the stakeholders are fully satisfied. On the one hand, perfection can be tough to achieve, but on the contrary, it is at this point in the organizational growth and development that the stakeholders can reap the most. Perfection involves refining and redefining the business operations until the management is content with the level of efficiency and cost effectiveness displayed. It is through perfection that the company achieves the highest degree of synchrony in its operations in relation to meeting the needs and expectations of their consumers with high quality products, timely deliveries, and impeccable customer service among other things that define the value for their targeted consumers.
The lean principles help to create a context within which an organization can operate perfectly without wastage or delays in delivering the product to the market. Manufacturing companies are particularly interested in these principles because they enable them to limit production costs, and thus, be able to sell their products at a reasonable price and still make a good profit. The lean principles, in this case, enable manufacturers to compete fairly, especially with cheaper countries where there are economies of scale which makes production cheaper. When implementing a lean principle, the particular company often has to examine its contexts, thus defining each principle based on what it is aimed to achieve. For some companies, the value is based on customer service, and this means a need to empower the employees and make them very dedicated and passionate in their interactions with the consumers. For other companies, the value lies in the quality of the product, thus the need to focus on business strategies that promote efficiency and quality among others appears. Every business has a different context, but the basic lean principles remain as discussed above.