Lean Manufacturing, an impact beyond the shop floor?

In 1913, Henry Ford set up a highly productive organization based on flow, but Lean Manufacturing was not yet spoken of. Today, it is safe to say that he was the first to use these concepts.

The real birth of Lean took place in a workshop, just before the World War II in 1937. You won’t be surprised to read that Toyota, in Japan, is the cradle of Lean Management. Their methods were based on the reduction of value added losses.

After the conflict, when the supply of raw materials and spare parts is difficult, they create the logic of Jidoka to identify defects as early as possible and reduce repair.

In the 50’s, the Toyota factory was inspired by the American models to increase their productivity, they then developed the just in time and all the tools that allow it.

In 1990, the word “LEAN” was born. Members of MIT formalized these principles in a book entitled “The Machine That Changes the World”. It is a worldwide success and brings the Lean culture to the eyes of the global industry.

The rise of Lean in recent years

With the globalization and thus the increase of competition since the end of the 90’s and until today, many companies have chosen to orient their strategy towards a better productivity. The need for performance is accelerating. While this is good for the consumer with a growing offer and lower prices, it is also the end for those who cannot adapt.

Nowadays, the philosophy of Lean management is “acquired”. It is part of good practice and all manufacturers use certain principles. Maybe they don’t call it that, but performance is so tied to it that when they are working on an improvement, they unknowingly use elements of Lean.

Large groups are very fond of Lean Management, for them it is the best solution to produce better and faster. It’s true, and they are federating their employees around it. Today, the 5S, Kaizen and other visual projects are often used as a lever for internal communication. It is a good way to invest your teams in the dynamics of continuous improvement. Making Lean the philosophy of the company by instilling it in its employees is a good way to go further. But what is the level to be reached tomorrow?

Digital Lean, the open door to progress

Today, Lean management has not changed its principles. It hasn’t changed its focus, but while they have been deploying it for several years, their method is starting to run out of steam. Anyone can find themselves in this situation. Productivity jumped, quality improved, and now that everything is in place… There is no room for improvement…

The first principle of Lean is “improvement is infinite”. But then, what direction to take to continue to increase the value added?

In the 21st century, new technologies are here to help us. And if your shop floor is equipped with all the tools leading to flawless performance, can you say the same about your administrations? And if all your departments enjoy outstanding performance thanks to Lean Management, can you say the same about communication between departments?

These are the areas of improvement for tomorrow, using new technologies to win on all fronts.

While your Lean Management indicators on the shop floor are reliable, who updates them? Your team leaders use their valuable time to write daily, weekly or monthly reports in order to monitor results. And are the numbers accurate? Today, thanks to tools belonging to new technologies, you can facilitate measurements and reporting. You can save your managers hours per week and give them the opportunity to find new improvements.

Lean Office, think about it

Lean Office is the adaptation of Lean principles to all departments other than production. We talk about the offices as opposed to the workshop. There are many opportunities for improvement in communication, information systems and accounting. We will talk about the latter:

Lean Accounting is also the perfect example of support services improvement. It is to accounting what Lean Manufacturing is to production. Although little known and much less used than its older brother, Lean Accounting has proven itself in many companies. Through the application of various principles, such as the organization of costs by value chain, the change in inventory valuation or the modification of budgetary reports, it makes it possible to improve the financial performance of the establishment. Who said that Lean only happens on the shop floor?

So, improvement in Lean is not over, and many opportunities are still open to you. Only a few examples were cited, but new technologies and the Lean Office still offer us many ways to shine. Now, no more reason to doubt, the improvement is still not over…

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