Lean manufacturing concepts in communication 4 – Inappropriate tooling

Communication is very important in lean manufacturing context. To make your communication effective it is essential to use the correct methods of communicating. This is very important in today’s context. With all the new communication methods around, finding the correct way of communicating might be a tricky task.

Correct communication tool is dependent on the situation it is used. If we have to communicate something very urgently, it is always better to give a call. But if it is to document something and to be used for the future reference, we will have to go for an email. If somebody use these methods other way around what would be the effect. Obviously your lead time will go high.

Using inappropriate methods in information exchange, will lead to overloading of information and waiting for information. This can lead to wrong information creation in the system. It is needless to say how complicated your system would be in these scenarios.

Lean manufacturing for process improvement, look at your process as an outsider

It is always better to have a look at how you operate and fine tune to get the maximum output from your effort. Lean manufacturing always encourage this. In fact this has a very high importance to a lean system. This is known as the kaizen in the context of lean manufacturing. Kaizen efforts virtually keep your system improvements dynamic and improve your system for ever. But when you look at a process it is very important to look at your process as an outsider, preferably in the eyes of your customer.

People who work in the process generally are reluctant to see problems in their process. This is of cause not bad. This is the human behavior. People do not like change generally. But when you give them a good reason to why they should change, they will change. If you can look at your process as an outsider, you will see many problems or opportunities for the improvement than before. Outsiders do not have any biases towards your process. So they can tell what they see as a problem.

Creating a culture like this is a challenging task though. People must start to think every problem they find in the system as an opportunity for the improvement. They should be comfortable in challenging these problems. Finding solutions should be facilitated by the organization by providing the authority and resources to the relevant people. After all, importantly, people should be rewarded for the effort they put in this process.

Problems are not bad. Every problem is an opportunity for improvement in lean manufacturing context.

Lean manufacturing, throughput time and lead time

It is always very important to clearly understand the advantages of lean manufacturing before it is implemented. One of the most important advantages of being lean is the ability to provide goods to the customer with shorter lead times. Lead time have many components in it. One of such component is the throughput time or the TPT. This is one aspect every manufacturer gives critical attention in the manufacturing process. TPT is the time taken for a product to come out from the particular production facility, once it is entered there. For an example if we feed the raw materials today to the lines, if we can get the finished products in two days out of the production facility, we call the TPT as two days.

Many production facilities who want to become lean manufacturers, cuts down on their throughput times. This is by using various tools and techniques of lean manufacturing like pull manufacturing systems and kanban implementations. But unfortunately most of their lead times will remain the same, so your customers will not get any useful outcome from your lean implementation. Instead of having your stores full with raw materials, you will have your stores filled with finished products to be shipped. Why is this?

This is because you have implemented lean principles only looking at your manufacturing facility. But TPT is only a very small part of your actual lead time. You have to correct many processes in reducing your lead time to your customers. You will have to look at your distribution facility and cargo handling methods. You will have to distribute small quantities of finished products at frequent intervals, so that your customer will get goods quickly. This will reduce the lead time and will keep your stocks low.

It is a common mistake people do when it comes to lean manufacturing. They only look at their manufacturing facilities. But manufacturing facility should be supported with many internal and external parties to harvest the true benefits of lean manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing concepts in communication 3 – Longer channel lengths

We have been talking about the possibility of using lean manufacturing concepts to improve your communication process. We have already talked about two wastes occur in traditional communication channel, which are overloading and waiting. Today we will concentrate on the third. This is the long length of the communication channel. This is the equivalent of the higher transportation in lean manufacturing.

In most of the organizations one piece of information will be passed through many people without any processing of information. For an example a manager to his assistant and from the assistant to the clerk who is actually use this information in his work.

Every additional point in the communication channel adds unnecessary delays and creates the possibility of making errors. People don’t understand the fact that large amounts of information is passed through them because this is done mainly electronically. But this adds up to the lead time of the manufacturing since in every moment that information is waiting for the processing is adding up to the lead time. This also wastes people’s time since they have to process unnecessary information.


You will find this problem of information flow within your organization. You will also find problems like this between your organization and customers and suppliers. Think with lean manufacturing cap on. Draw a communication diagram and map your information channels. Find out unnecessary mid points and get read of them. Make your communication channels short and focused.