Principles of Lean philosophy and creation of perfection

Principles of Lean philosophy

Those two teachers who have developed the term Lean, Womack and Jones, have defined five principles that characterize a Lean enterprise. These are:

  1. Value – Specification of the value from the final customer.
  2. A flow of values – Identify the steps required to design, order, and deliver a particular product by eliminating the steps that do not create value.
  3. Flow – progressive realization of tasks along the stream of values so that the product reaches the end customer without interruption or reflux.
  4. Pull – cascade production system. Nothing is produced by the upstream supplier until the downstream customer signals a need.
  5. Perfection – Complete elimination of the waste so that all the activities in the value flow create value. Perfection is pursued through continuous improvement.

The fundamental concept of Lean philosophy is to eliminate waste and to define value regarding the customer. The Toyota Production System has defined seven types of waste. These are overproduction, stocks, transport, waiting, rebuilding, movement and over-processing. Currently, specialists are talking about the eighth form of waste, the most important, the waste of intelligence, skills, and talent.

Lean’s collection of instruments and concepts is pervasive, and each of them can improve manufacturing operations. As more tools are used, the benefits will become more complicated. Inevitably, all Lean concepts lean on and reinforce each other. Among the Lean instruments we can find 5S, Andon, Bottleneck Analysis, Continuous Flow, Gemba (The Real Place), Heijunka (Level Scheduling) and Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment), Jidoka (Autonomation), Just-In- (Continuous Improvement), Kanban (Pull System), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Muda (Waste), Total Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act), Poka-Yoke (Error Proofing), Root Cause Analysis, Single-Minute Exchange of Dies. Six Big Losses, SMART Goals, Standardized Work, Takt Time, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Value Stream Mapping, Visual Factory.

Although each instrument has extraordinary benefits, getting perfection is not easy. Lean philosophy is a change of culture and strategy; it is not a project or just a set of tools. Perfection can be achieved when a critical attitude in internal processes is maintained. The implementation of permanent improvement methods must dominate the question: as the final consumer am I willing to pay for this service/product?

A continuous improvement method involves all employees of a company and must be promoted first and foremost by top management. Once the perfection has been achieved, the improvement has to be continued and the results obtained must be maintained, improved, always perfect.

Lean performance is measured by prioritizing projects based on the impact on profitability and on-site improvements. The ultimate goal is to guide steps in the Lean process.

Obstacles: ‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal’ – Henry Ford.

If you’re looking to improve your business with lean management, get in contact with QICE today to organise a consultation.

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