Lean Fundamentals– Principles of Implementation

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Lean Fundamentals– Principles of Implementation

The term “lean” with regards to a business organization can be defined as a systematic method for the elimination of waste with a focus on maximizing value-added activities. Value is determined through the eyes of the customer – in other words, value is any action or process that the customer would be willing to pay for. A lean system is focused simply on getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity while minimizing waste and being flexible and able to change.

The goals of lean are to improve quality, eliminate waste, reduce time, and reduce total costs. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer. In order to achieve these goals, processes must be evaluated to determine what is considered value and what is waste. There is a five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of lean techniques:

  1. Specify value from the standpoint of the customer
  2. Identify all steps in the “value stream” and eliminate steps or activities that do not create value.
  3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence
  4. Let customers “pull” value from the next upstream activity
  5. As value is specified, value streams are identified and waste is removed. Begin the process again and continue until a state of perfection is reached, providing perfect value to the customer.

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When determining what is value and what is waste, there are eight types of waste that should be evaluated:

  1. Transportation – Transporting parts and material over excessive distances. This can be caused by poor plant layout, large storage areas, or a strategy of carrying extra inventory.
  2. Inventory – Excessive inventory covers up problems, protects against inefficiencies and unexpected problems. Reducing inventory exposes problems and forces their resolution.
  3. Motion – Excessive or unnecessary movement of people or machines.
  4. Waiting – Idle time created while waiting for people, materials, machines, measurement, etc. This could be caused by workload imbalance, machine breakdown, quality problems, etc.
  5. Overproduction – Making more than the next process needs or faster than the next process can handle. This leads to excess inventory.
  6. Over processing – Extra or excessive effort that adds no value to the product from the customer point of view.
  7. Defects – Production requiring inspection, repair or remake
  8. Human Intellect – The waste of not using peoples abilities and skills

Waste should be eliminated along entire value streams, rather than at isolated points. Once value has been identified and waste eliminated, a system is created that needs less effort, less space, less capital, and less time to create products at less cost with fewer defects and provides more value to the customer.

As an element of continuous improvement, Webster has been progressively implementing lean thinking into the Quality System, eliminating waste and continuing to provide value to its customers.

Maryann Semer, Quality Administrator

Webster Industries