Everyday Lean: Lean Beyond Manufacturing

Everyday Lean: Lean Beyond Manufacturing

Although my entire career has been dedicated to Lean Logistics and Lean Supply Chain Management, I am still surprised daily by the great best practices designed, implemented, and sustained throughout various industries. As lean continues to build traction outside of the world of manufacturing, it is interesting to see how not just the tools (ex: 5S, 5 Why, Visual Management) but the core principles themselves (ex: Learning Organization, Problem Solving Culture) are being used to improve all types of “operations.” A quick look at the Lean Enterprise Institute’s Knowledge Center webpage will give you a sense of the endless applicability of lean principles regardless of industry:

This past September I attended the CSCMP Annual Conference. During the Lean and Supply Chain Excellence track, Andy Pietanza, Supply Chain Manager at Nordson Asymtek, discussed Lean Procurement. Early in his presentation, Andy gave a nice description of the cross functional collaboration needed to support production; Sales and Marketing provide the forecast, Engineering controls the BOM and PFEP, and Purchasing needs to evaluate suppliers and secure materials. He goes on to illustrate how lean tools can be used to assess and address known risks proactively and how technology, when used wisely, can free up resources to focus on priority tasks and reduce busy work.

Next month we will return for the second year to the AME International Lean Conference. AME perpetuates the exchange of knowledge in all things Organizational Excellence: Lean Tools, Lean Leadership, Lean Product Development, Lean Supply Chain, and Lean Accounting. The program’s seven learning tracks will really take attendees back to the roots of lean from customer focus to respect for humanity; elements that are critical regardless of industry or functional role. Even the tours allow you to go to the Gemba and experience lean beyond manufacturing including the American Red Cross and Lehigh Phoenix (Publishing).

In his article Making Lean Work in the Real World, Brian Albright makes a strong case for lean’s applicability. He describes how lean principles have been used to revolutionize an auto repair business. His attention is focused on many of the aspects that plague lean program sustainability such as cross-functional collaboration, competing incentives, lack of leadership, and upstream/downstream partnerships. While few of you are likely in the auto repair business, I suspect that many of you can sympathize and are shaking your head in agreement!

In Becoming Horizontal in a Vertical World Dr. James Womack reminds us to define a process by its unique steps, define value from the customer’s perspective, eliminate/minimize those elements that do not add value, and organize them in a particular sequence to enable flow. While extremely oversimplified, the point is that whether you are in sales, healthcare, finance, or IT, lean goes well beyond manufacturing.

Written by Erika Roberts, Director of Sales & Marketing at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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