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Apr 13, 2010

Lean Thinking and Capacity

When you hear the word Lean You maybe think it mean thin people or meat with no fat attached. Perhaps something fast, sleek and agile.

but in a business it has alot of descriptions are they :


o Produce products with defects

o Need less effort to design, make and service their products

o Use fewer suppliers

o Key processes performed in less time and with less effort

o Need less stock ( inventory, WIP etc)

o Have fewer accidents

Basically it is a firm that consumes less of everything and accomplishes more with less.

Lean companies use less material, less time, less energy, less space. They are driven by customer demand and use the most effective and economical way to develop and deliver their products or services.

Some of the tools and techniques have been around for many years. However, round about the 1980's the phrase was coined and it has grown to represent a particular set of ideas and methods, which when combined are referred to as Lean.

o Continuing and unrelenting focus on providing customer value.

o Maintaining continuous, incremental improvement.

o Taking the long term view

o Matching customer demand and providing everything that is needed at the right time.

o Using proven tools and techniques to reduce variation and attempting to completely eliminate waste.

It is this focus on eliminating waste that is at the very heart of Lean Thinking

Capacity= Work + Waste

Eliminate the waste and you will increase your capacity and with less cost.

Lean methodologies have been applied and adapted across just about every type of industry. Banking, construction, health care, government, manufacturing, engineering, design, back office administration and lots more besides. It is not just for the more "industrial" sectors, it can and has been, applied across a diverse range of services. There are implementation projects/programmes for supply chain, administration, management, product development, manufacturing and many more.

Lean has resulted in significant improvements to products and services across the globe. It brings them more quickly, more cheaply and more reliably.It focuses on eliminating waste at every level and every element of an organisation. It does not matter whether you are one person working in a box room or a multi-national employing thousands,it will provide significant improvements to your business.

It shows you how to use less time, space, energy, effort, material or anything else you use to deliver your product/service to your customers/clients.But it is about much more than a set of tools and techniques and eliminating waste. It has to become a way of organisational life, a way of thinking, a philosophy. You do not just "Do Lean" and forget about it. It is an ongoing commitment to continual incremental improvement based on a belief that processes can always be improved.

When it fails it is because organisations do not fully understand the commitment required and that it is an ongoing journey to a destination that you will never reach. That is not to say that it is a tortuous, frustrating process, it is not. It is exciting, empowering, a breath of fresh air but a firm must be committed.

Individuals, teams, departments and whole organisations learn every day, the lessons are learnt, the knowledge is embedded and the cycle is repeated. All the time organisational knowledge grows and improvements are made and capitalized upon.