Lean manufacturing

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Lean Operations
Answers to Frequently
Asked Questions

by

Donald L. Dewar, President

QCI International
17055 Quailridge Road
Cottonwood, CA 96022
Phone: (530) 347-1334 Fax: (530) 347-6987
E-mail: info@qci-intl.com
Web site: www.qci-intl.com

Copyright (2003 QCI International

Introduction

This booklet has been written to provide a quick primer for those wishing to becomeacquainted with lean operations.

As you read this booklet, bear in mind that it is not intended to be a do-it-yourself kit. It is an introductory document. To implement lean operations, there has to be determined support by management, a belief in people and willingness to provide the training that has proven so essential.

Contents

General questions about lean operations 4

Examples ofmeasurement and results in a lean environment 5

Training 8

Major obstacles 12

Selling the idea 13

The steering committee 14

The continuous improvement coordinator 15

The leader and members 16

Improvement projects 17

Recognition 17

General questions about lean operations____________

What is lean?
Leanoperations involve eliminating waste, whether it be time, materials, efficiency or processes. It also means figuratively tightening the belt in pursuit of increased productivity gains that will increase a company’s ability to compete more successfully.

Why lean?
Increased global competition will likely force all but the strong to the sidelines. Belt-tightening and a lean mindset will enable the gameto continue as companies steady themselves for the challenges and opportunities that await them.

Today’s truly lean company will be a survivor in the global battle for customers and bottom-line profits. The need for lean is obvious, and the potential rewards dazzling. There will be those who probably will resist the necessary changes. Training will start you on the road to overcoming thisresistance and ultimately achieving a successful transition.

Who participates in lean operations?
Eventually, everyone in the company is a participant in the quest for a lean organization.

Is lean applicable only to manufacturing?
The concept includes many non-manufacturing areas such as purchasing, clerical, office and technical. Also, these areas often contribute in making lean achievementsin manufacturing more successful.

What organizations can benefit from lean projects?
Every organization offering goods or services. This includes such diverse sectors as merchandising, hospitals, banking, insurance, public utilities, government, military, prisons, churches, schools and, of course, manufacturing.

Can lean activities be started in more than one division at a time?
Yes, itcan be done, but starting in one division is preferable. The experience gained permits corrections and modifications to be introduced with less fuss. In this way, any “bugs” can be eliminated before the concept is initiated plant-wide.

How should employees approach problems?
They should approach problems with a positive attitude—one that says, “We can solve it!” Open discussion and using variousproblem-solving tools, in a positive and cooperative manner, will shed new light on any problem.

How important is it to establish objectives and milestones?
Individuals or groups working on lean projects should be encouraged to establish an objective and develop a plan to achieve it. The plan is further broken into milestones so that progress can be measured frequently against the plan. Thisinformation should be charted and posted for all to see and to serve as a constant reminder.

What if a lean project overlaps into other areas of an organization?

That will happen, especially in the long run, but in the short run and particularly the early phases, it should be avoided. We are talking about change, and many people resist having to do and support new ways of doing things....
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