Lean Manufacturing Implementation

Because of increasing pressure from customers and competition to reduce costs , many companies want to begin lean implementations next year. Like other major initiatives, effective lean implementations begin with good planning. In this article, I will cover 5 key steps to planning for lean implementation.

1. Perform an initial lean assessment.The purpose of a lean assessment is to identify organizational strengths and weaknesses and determine how “lean” the organization is initially in different areas. It should include financial and operational analysis. It is important to select an employee or consultant with significant lean experience to conduct the assessment. While someone internally might have the necessary experience, an outsider might help to provide a new perspective that can prove to be very beneficial in the planning stage. It can also help in convincing members of the management team that might not initially be on board with the change.

2. Begin tracking metrics.The lean assessment will provide the baseline and answer the question “Where are we?” Tracking and posting metrics will show you where you are going during the lean transformation and will gauge how successful your program is. Develop a set of metrics that you will use to track your implementation efforts. It is important to select a reasonably small number of metrics and post them in the plant- metrics should not be reserved for management’s eyes only.

3. Develop a one year detailed implementation plan and three to five year plan.Based on the lean assessment and metrics selected, develop a timeline for implementing lean. It should include goals and milestones. The plan needs to be tailored to the unique circumstances of the organization- not all plans will look alike!

4. Develop a training plan.Companies commonly make two mistakes with regards to lean training- either they train too much too early or they fail to train. Both of these mistakes can prove to be costly. It is important to develop a training plan that coincides with the implementation plan. You should identify who should be trained, when they should be trained, and in what disciplines they should be trained.

5. Develop a communication and performance/reward plan.Communicating the plan to go lean to everyone in the organization and letting them know how this will effect them is critical to success. Part of the communication plan should include a plan to reward both teams and individuals for their successful participation.

As you plan your lean implementation in the future, keep these five keys in mind. They will help you to move more quickly toward successful implementation.

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About EMS Consulting Group, Inc.
EMS Consulting Group is a management consulting firm designed to create value for manufacturers, service providers, and product developers. Our clients include organizations from the industrial and consumer products, defense/aerospace, healthcare, biotech, and medical device sectors. Providing lean manufacturing and lean six sigma training. lean healthcare training, and lean manufacturing consulting services; we can help you achieve lower costs, improved productivity and quality, and decreased time-to-market.

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