Going lean Brings Long-term Payoffs

Going lean brings long-term payoffs by John Torinus:

The growing number of Wisconsin manufacturers, and the few service companies, taking the lean journey are learning that it is not a sprint.

The immediate paybacks come in the form of saved space, less distance traveled, fewer handoffs, faster throughput, lower inventories and man-hours saved.

I would state the authors next point differently. The early paybacks provide resources to invest in making large more fundamental changes to the organization. Those successes also help convince people these lean ideas have merit. Dilbert does a good job of illustrating how many workers feel about the latest words spoken by their management. Without visible success expecting employees to believe the new management practices is unwise.

While lean aims at productivity improvements, surprising jumps in quality often result as a byproduct.

Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste which given the systemic view of lean thinking leads directly to improved “quality.” Defects are a clear waste and identified as such by Ohno. Thus eliminating waste includes improving quality in many ways: reduced defects, quicker response to the market, reduction in the need to dispose of excess inventory…

Eliminating non-value added steps and reducing handoffs reduces waste directly and also eliminates potential errors thus improving quality. Poor quality results in products that customers return which is more waste. Poka Yoke is a great example of a tool that eliminates waste by preventing errors thus reducing waste and improving quality.

Toyota definitely sees the recent problems they have experienced resulting in huge recalls as waste that illustrates a failure that must be corrected. The waste is brought home in the form of increased costs Toyota must bear, but the waste is also visited upon their customers. Eliminating waste anywhere in the value chain is important, not just that internal to your organization – which again ties directly to quality improvement.

Related: Find the Root Cause Instead of the Person to Blameblog posts on lean/quality tools and conceptsNot a Quick FixAchieving Zero Waste to Landfill
blog posts on the Toyota Production Systemconstancy of purpose (long term vision)

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  1. Pingback: Deming Podcast with Fred Wambier and Kelly Allan On Applying Deming’s Ideas at Finishing Technology « The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

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