Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lean Operations

Description Lean Operations is both a methodology and philosophy that focuses on eliminating waste and reducing the time between a customer's order and delivery. By trimming waste, companies—manufacturers of goods and providers of services alike—can achieve higher quality, increased productivity, improved customer interactions and speed. The goal of Lean Operations is to get the right things to the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities, while minimizing waste. The Lean concept was pioneered by Toyota founder, Taiichi Ohno, as a much faster, better and less-expensive way of producing vehicles. Lean Operations redefines waste as anything the customer won't pay for—everything from clerical errors to idle machine operators. The process identifies seven types of waste:
Waiting—for products, personnel, parts, the availability of machines;
Transportation time—for equipment and parts needed for repairs;
Processes—duplicate data entry, inefficient stocking;
Excessive inventory;
Unnecessary motion by people and machines;
Correction of defects or service errors.Methodology There are three key elements in Lean Operations: ensuring that the product flows through production without interruption; systems that replenish supplies and products in response to customer demand; and a culture that strives for both excellence and continuous improvement. Five basic steps are used to improve the process flow:
Identify activities that create value;
Determine the major steps to deliver that value;
Eliminate activities that do not add value;
Ensure that products are available when consumers want them;
Continuously improve processes. Common uses While the Lean approach originally was designed for manufacturers, a broad range of industries now use the Lean concept to improve both operations and customers' experience by:
Spending less on equipment;
Redesigning factories, stores and processes to increase efficiency of workers and machines;
Reducing the number of workers needed to accomplish a task;
Increasing efficiency of inventory stocking and replenishing;
Improving customer service;
Creating varied store formats;
Developing branding—win customers by having cheaper prices, faster service or wider product selection.

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