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Lean Thinking Beyond Manufacturing

Lean thinkers can see waste and systematically eliminate it in every process in everything they do everyday.


Lean manufacturing is the application of lean practices and principles to eliminate waste, optimize processes, cut costs, and boost innovation. Traditionally, lean had been considered a strategy to increase efficiency, but lean at its core is a way of thinking. A way of thinking about waste.


What are basic lean principles?


-Identify waste

-Eliminate waste

-Get to the value added activity


Waste is anything not adding any value. An example of this would be at a coffee shop. A barista has to get a cup and in order to do that they have to walk over to it, pull it out, put in down, walk over, clean the machine, and walk back. Well, as you can see, no coffee has been made yet. So all of those prior steps are waste. It isn't that button is pushed and the coffee is actually coming out that value is being added.


As a customer, you aren't paying for someone to walk, get a cup, and get a lid. You're paying for coffee... for the caffeine buzz.



Why integrate a lean culture in the workplace?


-Decrease inventory costs

-Decrease waste

-Improve quality of products


Imagine for a second that you are saving a couple seconds on 50 or 60 processes a day. That adds can be 1-2 minutes saved per day which over the course of a year is 360 or 720 minutes. That means that as we go along making processes more efficient, the gains back into the business are compounded where time can be better spent serving the customers or expanding the business.


How do I integrate a lean culture?


Follow the basics of 3S

-Sort: get rid of unnecessary items

-Sweep: keep your workplace neat and tidy

-Standardize: keep your work standard current and updated


The truth about any workplace is that any and every single individual has an influence on culture. Therefore we rely on each other at every level to maintain and proliferate a culture of lean in order for continuous improvement.


Also, lean can extend outside of manufacturing and can be used as an approach to improve the efficiency of ones own productivity. Imagine what you can do with a few extra hours a year just by saving a few seconds a day.


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