When people think of Lean, their minds often wander to manufacturing. While Lean was originally developed to benefit the manufacturing industry, the fact that it has been practiced effectively has raised the eyebrows of many other industries.
These industries now seek to employ the effective practices of lean and recreate the same success that it has created in manufacturing.
Let’s take a look at several top reasons why Lean is not only for manufacturers. We’ll also briefly go over the Lean philosophy and methodology for those who aren’t in the know.
What is Lean?
For those who aren’t that familiar, Lean is much like the term people use when they are exercising. A lean individual is someone that doesn’t have any excess fat or unwanted pounds. The result is a healthier, more active, and effective life.
In the same way, Lean is a philosophy that looks to improve the allocation of resources, eliminate unwanted procedures and processes (or waste), and deliver products to customers at a faster and more efficient pace.
The cornerstone of practicing Lean lies in understanding the value it can provide customers and ensuring that all processes and resources contribute to this. Value is defined as anything that a customer is willing to pay for.
If customers aren’t willing to pay for something, or if a process doesn’t contribute to the overall value to the customers, then it is considered a waste.
This “waste” is another important factor of Lean. There are many wastes in a company. These could be anything from how various steps in a product’s lifecycle are carried out, the transitions between steps, the responsibilities of employees, and even overstocking manufactured items and inventory.
Principles of Lean
The principles of Lean are simple. We’ve already covered the first, which is understanding a company’s value.
The second principle is gathering all employees and understanding all the steps that occur during the process chain. In understanding the various processes and breaking them up into steps, it will be easier to eliminate waste and move on to the third principle.
The third is to improve the overall process flow. This is why Lean is a process that includes all employees. Employees will no doubt have invaluable knowledge and insights on the processes, as well as tips for improvement.
Next is relying on the customer’s pull. This means that products should only be created when customers have ordered or bought them. A product should not be created and stockpiled just to hope that customers buy it. Instead, companies should understand what is important to the customer and aim to deliver that.
The final principle is one of the most important ones. It is the principle of continuous improvement. Once the Lean process has been applied, the company needs to monitor the whole process and see what other things can be improved upon.
Perfection may not be attainable, but the journey towards it allows companies to constantly elevate itself and its practices.
Lean for Other Industries
One thing that Lean addresses well is resourcing. In the process of identifying and eliminating waste, a company’s resources are consolidated to address the efficient allocation and usage of resources.
Many industries can benefit from this approach. One example would be work in the government. One problem that always sprouts up in government activities is the resources and funds. Various government agencies always struggle to put up new services or projects as the members wrestle with issues of allocating resources across multiple things.
Oftentimes, projects or initiatives that can offer tons of benefits are left by the wayside when there are no resources available.
Fortunately Lean can help with this. Utilizing the Lean principles can help government agencies discover and eliminate things that don’t add any real value.
When this waste is eliminated, the corresponding costs can then be allocated to projects and initiatives.
The same can be said for hospitals and healthcare institutions. Beneficial services can be funded and brought into fruition when costs are saved from eliminating wastes in the industry.
When people stay at hotels, it is an escape from everyday life. It is also an opportunity to get away from life’s problems and stay in a comfortable area where the staff take care of your every need.
The very best hotels have high efficiency in their processes. A speedy retrieval of any needs or wants from the customers will always result in positive reviews and a more pleasant stay. This also cultivates a gold standard for the care that the hospital shows for the people staying.
Lean can help hotels in many ways. For starters, applying Lean can help refine and improve the processes in a hotel. Once the process is analyzed, wastes can be eliminated and the processes can run more smoothly.
More than that though, Lean also does this by motivating employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Lean does this by including them in the process, valuing their contributions to the improvements, and giving them a sense of ownership and accountability within the organization.
Focusing on Value
The food and beverage industry is another example of why Lean is not only for manufacturing.
Restaurants are tough to manage. Staff need to serve their customers quality food with quality service, all with keeping the costs as low as possible in order to make a profit.
However, just simply cutting costs will cause many problems in a well-oiled machine like a restaurant or fast food chain.
Lean can help by allowing these establishments to locate and focus on what gives customers value. This gives the cutting of costs a more measured approach, as certain processes can either be strengthened or lessened depending on how much value it gives customers.
Lean Thinking for Lean Industries
Lean is truly an effective tool that was originally made for manufacturing. However, we can see that the many different principles of Lean carry within them various nuggets of wisdom that can be applied to many other industries.
Be sure to learn more about Lean in order for you to apply these important concepts to whatever industry you are in.
And remember that improvement is a continuous process.
You might also wanna check How to Know if Your Facility is Truly Lean.