Lean manufacturing stories? Send me, I will share it with the world

I have been publishing my thoughts and findings on lean manufacturing for almost two years now. I found it’s interesting and joyful to do something I really believe in. meanwhile I build a good online community too. Most of them have contacted me sometimes with thank you and sometimes with their questions or experiences. I was always fascinated about the concept of having my users involved actively in the discussion of lean and related topics. So I thought of sharing your ideas and experiences on lean manufacturing of cause if you wish to.

If you wish to share your thoughts or experiences on lean manufacturing and related topics I am willing to give you some space here on my blog. Send me an email to azabadurdeen@yahoo.com with your mane and the story. I will share it with the world.

Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and Total Quality Management

A research by Bain And Company have revealed very interesting facts about usage of management tools and the satisfaction rates executives are achieving. Total number of management tools used by industries has increased from 13 to 15 in past two years according to this report. Leading tools in terms of usage and satisfaction levels are not lean related. Tools like strategic planning and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) leads the way.

But interestingly lean manufacturing has achieved significant recognition both in terms of usage and satisfaction. Lean operations show a comparatively lower value in terms of usage globally but higher satisfaction rates. North America seems to be leading in lean manufacturing in terms of usage, Latin Americans seems to be not using lean manufacturing much but interestingly they have achieved highest satisfaction rates. Asia and Europe are using lean in their organizations somewhat equally. In Asia Chinese are not using lean as much as other Asia Pacific countries does. Larger companies are using lean manufacturing most and they have achieved higher satisfaction rates than the rest of the bunch.

On the other hand Six Sigma has lost it ground. Six Sigma has is down both in usage and satisfaction levels when compared with lean operations.

Total quality management has a wider usage and higher satisfaction levels in the global scenario. TQM has outscored both lean manufacturing and six sigma in terms of usage and satisfaction levels. North America shows very low usage of TQM compared to the rest of the world. Asia Pacific region have used TQM heavily and interestingly have reported lower satisfaction than the rest in the bunch.

In total for me the trends seems to be varied according to the region. While North America seems to be moving towards lean manufacturing, Asia Pacific seems to be using TQM and six sigma in their organizations. Latin America has very lower usage of lean manufacturing and yet has reported very high satisfaction levels. Based on this information Latin American countries can be expected to move towards lean manufacturing in the future.

This report is a great way to understand the trends in the glob. To find this report do a simple Google search with “Management Tools and Trends 2007”

Reference: Management Tools and Trends 2007 By Bain and Company

Working from home – A lean thought

Working from home is a modern trend especially in the industries related to information technology. I was always interested in the concept. Working in the comfort of your home yet completing the tasks required. Lean manufacturing is always about elimination of waste and adding value to the customer. So I thought about evaluate this option of working in lean an angle.

Working from home always reduces the requirement for expensive infrastructure, work space and transportation costs. It will add a good hour or two for each worker since there is no need to travel daily. Flexibility of working and comfort and warmth of home are invaluable for anyone. So it seems working from home is a better idea for both the organization and workers.

On the other hand working from home, if not coordinated properly can lead to duplication and incompatibilities. Both these are wastes in lean. This method of working can kill the synergy of the teams. Again teams are very important ingredient of lean manufacturing. So coordination and management of work becomes very important.

Every industry might not be able to work in this model. But in every organization there are some functionalities which can be operated in this model. I feel if coordinated and managed properly, working from home model of operation can be beneficial for both to the organization and to the worker. As a lean thinker I would love to explore the potential of this model. But are the employers confident and adventures enough to explore the potential of this model? As a worker are you prepared to work from your home? Certainly I am.

I was in India last week

Just a note for my Indian friends. I visited India last week to attend some official work. I found it is to be a very interesting place. People are also very interesting. I wish I met any of my blog readers. But I couldn’t. Anyway it was fun.

Lean manufacturing and elimination of waste – why is it difficult?

Focus of lean manufacturing is to remove waste from the system in every form. Lean has clearly defined wastes and categorized them. But for many lean manufacturers still it is a hard task to find any major waste in the system. Most of the times these organizations identify waste as people who has no work to do, things end in thrash cans etc. while these might be wastes and should be eliminated they surely can’t explain 90% of the wasted resources of any organization. On the other hand even the best lean manufacturer is said to be wasting about 30% of their resources. So even the best lean manufacturer should have more waste than these. So what is the problem? Why there are no wastes?

The real problem is in hiding the waste. If the workers at every level, if they are not educated on the importance of lean manufacturing and if lean is used as a tool of penalizing the people who contribute to waste, then people will take the simpler root. They will simply hide the problem. This will be facilitated with messy workplaces where they will find the room to hide the waste, inefficient pull manufacturing systems etc. There might be principles like visual factory, single piece flow in practice. Although it is true infrastructure and setup will play a part in executing all these plans, if people do not play their part it is useless to have them in place.

People are at the heart of lean manufacturing. They must understand the importance of lean movement. Importantly they must be confident and comfortable in identifying and challenging existing wastes. People at all levels must be educated and empowered to unhide wastes and remove them with help of the others. This is actually the Kaizen at work.

In many organizations people are not comfortable in identifying and challenging existing practices. This is mainly due to the bad management and insufficient knowledge among workers. Remember, if you are not identifying and removing waste continuously from your system you can not be a world class performer, neither can be called as a lean manufacturer. Have a look at your organization. Are your workers comfortable in identifying wastes and challenge them?