Businesses deal with a lot of issues on a daily basis. Activities may be hindered by delivery problems, extended lead times and issues with factory and office workflow. Most corporations wonder how they will know if they are ready to engage in lean manufacturing.

The good thing with lean manufacturing is that it gives a business the “nitty-gritty” that constitute effective operations.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

This is a commonly misinterpreted word. It is thought to be a method of copying what other companies do. However, Lean manufacturing is more of learning from other companies with the knowledge that not everything that seems to work for them, will work excellently for you.

All businesses are unique, hence call for techniques that are aligned with their goals.

It is common for many businesses to seek Lean when they feel that they have taken care of all the basics. A more informed view is that Lean is the actual basis.

Lean follows practical approaches such as scrapping bureaucratic and complex procedures. This takes businesses from large scale messes to smooth performance.

Problems That Arise When Implementing Lean

The industry is packed with Lean trainers and consultants. Most of them introduce what they think will work for you after interpreting the Lean approach. Unfortunately, this method is likely to lead to overly rigid procedures. When the approach is carried out in the form of complicated diagnostics and checklists, it not only fails to resolve the problem at its core but also becomes extremely resource hungry.

For the Lean solution to work, the core business problems such as quality, lead time and engagement of staff have to be understood and targeted.

Is There a Particular Time When a Business Is “Ready For Lean?”

Some issues such as problems with strategic direction may hold up the implementation of Lean. Areas such as marketing and sales might also call for immediate attention.

Commitment to other projects might mean that Lean implementation takes a break. There may be inadequate resources as a result of an ongoing commitment.

Some changes that occur on a large scale may make a particular time not fit for launching a Lean program. For instance, if your company is laying down future management changes or is in the process of being acquired, it is wise to see these essential activities through to completion.

As much as Lean programs have great benefits to any organisation, shifting the focus of key staff from a running project to Lean initiative is difficult.

The Bottom Line

Your business is ready for Lean manufacturing if: your internal processes are unsuccessful, your delivery and quality is unpleasant to your customers; frustrating to them, or none of your staff is willing to be held accountable for any activities.

There is always some sort of gap even when things don’t seem to be bad. It is very rare that your company will get to a point when you feel that the Lean journey has been travelled successfully.