Are you a lean manufacturer or a lean service provider?

There are many manufacturers in many industries. There are many service providers in our vicinity. We can identify these two functionalities distinctively. But manufacturers of today are not only manufacturers. They are service providers. They provide services to their brand owners and some cases to the end consumer.

Most of the manufacturers do manufacture for brand owners. These brand owners are generally third parties. In fact most of the brand owners are moving out from manufacturing and even services related to manufacturing such as order placement. Third parties perform all these functionalities. In this context manufacturers become service providers rather than pure manufacturers. Manufacturers will have to have good order fulfillment systems; they should have strong bases in areas like logistics even design capabilities in some cases. So if you are a lean manufacturer think again. Manufacturing is only a one competency your customers looking for. There are many other areas where you can improve on.

No matter how good you can manufacture unless you can provide good service to your customers they will not look at you positively. Customers might turn to manufacturers who can provide better services even if they are little bit weaker in manufacturing competency. Being a lean manufacturer is fine. But being a lean service provider can enhance your edge when it comes to competition today.

A user feedback

In response to my request from you on sharing your lean experiences with me and my readers I got feed back from many of you. I must thank all of you for the interest shown.

Rajeev Naik also sent me his personal experience on lean manufacturing. This is a very long post and discusses tools like root cause analysis. So I thought of publishing the link to that post. You can read the full post by following this link.

Lean manufacturing and information technology

I have written few articles on lean manufacturing concepts and its applicability in communication. I wrote about lean and IT sometime back. But it is interesting to see the connection between IT and information flow with a lean mindset.

Information Technology (IT) has revolutionized the world. Now the world is far smaller than it used to be. Suppliers, manufacturers and customers are only a phone call away no matter from which part of the glob they are. It is simple to understand the importance of IT in today’s context. But what do you want to achieve from IT and basically from communication, within and between organizations. What IT can do for you to improve your performance.

Most of the organizations do not exactly know what they want to achieve from the communication process. They might use new sophisticated communication methods to constantly be in contact with their suppliers and customers. Most of the organization would use some of the e-communication methods like email as an internal communication tool. But have they achieved their desired results. Or importantly are these organizations actively looking for some positive improvements in the bigger picture with the help of these tools. For me most of the organizations do not actually know why they use these tools and have no idea about what they want to achieve using these tools.

Not knowing the goals of using these useful communication tools can adversely affect your organization. It can waste time. Also it can waste money and other resources if not used carefully. Most of the mails in a server will never be touched but will never be deleted either. This will create extra requirement for hardware and hence money will be wasted.

On the other hand even most of the medium size enterprises are now use some sort of an ERP. These are very handy systems which will be very useful in effectively managing their resources. In most of the cases these ERP are used to capture tons of data. Most of these data will never be used in decision making. But they spend countless hours in capturing these data and storing them. Obviously this is a waste of resources.

People think every problem can be solved with IT. Some think latest technology can solve their problems. Some think they should capture as much data as possible to make their decision. But they newer understand why they do this.

IT will never solve your problem if you do not understand the problem clearly and if you do not have clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Capturing every possible piece of data and storing will not help if you do not know what you are going to analyze and what you want to know.

Lean manufacturing has a clear purpose. Information flow is simple and effective. Managers will use simple visual controls to manage their operations. There will not be any unnecessary data capturing or there will not be any unnecessary analysis of data. Everything is done to eliminate waste from the system. This has proven to be very effective for decades now. For me every organization must clearly understand the role IT should play in their organization.