How Following Lean Principles Can Improve Business

The Lean manufacturing principles can be broken down into five main principles: value, value streams, flow, pull, and perfection. Here is some insight into each of the main principles:

Principles of Lean ManufacturingThe Lean approach begins with a detailed understanding of what value the customer assigns to product and services. Establishing value allows organizations to create a top-down target price. Your organization focuses on eliminating waste so that they can deliver the value the customer expects at the highest level of profitability.

The value stream is the product’s entire life-cycle from the raw materials through to the customer’s use of, and eventual disposal of, the product. In order to eliminate waste, the ultimate goal of Lean, there must be an accurate and complete understanding of the value stream. Processes are examined to determine what value is added. Steps, materials, features, and movement that do not add value are eliminated.

Understanding flow is essential to the elimination of waste. If the value stream stops moving forward at any point, waste is the inevitable by-product. The lean manufacturing principle of flow is about creating a value chain with no interruption in the production process and a state where each activity is fully in step with every other.

The lean principle of pull helps ensure flow by making sure that nothing is made ahead of time, building up work-in-process inventory and stopping the synchronized flow. Rather than using the traditional American manufacturing approach of pushing work through based on a forecast and schedule, the pull approach dictates that nothing is made until the customer orders it. This requires a great deal of flexibility and short design to delivery cycle times. It also requires an efficient way of communicating what is needed to each step in the value chain.

Lean practitioners strive to achieve nothing short of perfection. The march toward perfect process happens step by step as continuous improvements address root causes of quality problems and production waste. The relentless pursuit of perfection is what drives users of the approach to dig deeper, measure more, and change more often than their competitors.

As organizations begin to accurately specify value, identify the entire value stream, make the value-creating steps for specific products flow continuously and let customers pull value from the enterprise, something very odd begins to happen. It dawns on those involved that there is no end in the process of reducing downtime, effort, time, space, cost and mistakes while offering a product which is ever more nearly what the customer actually wants. Suddenly perfection, the fifth and final principle of lean thinking, doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

These ideas form the foundation of the Lean approach that has transformed countless corporations, giving them a leg up on the competition and a clear path to both profitability and delighted customers. Let Thrive make sure that your company is heading in the right direction.