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Keep Lean Manufacturing Simple

Today I delivered a Lean Manufacturing development session with Alan Whittaker from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (on behalf of the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum). It was a great session and a lot of ground was covered.

One of the interesting points, and the reason for this post, was that it was agreed that simplicity needs to be at the heart of the lean approach to business improvement. Finding the right tools for the job is essential when we aim to improve our business' processes, we need to choose a small selection of appropriate approaches and really make them work.

Lean Manufacturing Training
Lego parts from the simulation game - ready for the next improvement round!

We could spend all of our time testing and trialling new approaches on our business but the basic tool kits can  help us get a long way along the improvement road before we have to consider more sophisticated options.

In the session we reviewed approaches such as takt time, line balancing, waste reduction, continuous improvement, 5S, SOPs, skills matrices and single piece flow. These approaches may be well known but they aren't always well used.

Has your business mastered the basic lean tools?

Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer