4 sure-fire ways to ruin lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing has taken on significant importance in recent years and more companies have started to adopt this manufacturing method.  David Kiger has certainly written about this in past.  Part of this can be explained by an overall drop in the economy and the need to maximize resources as much as possible.  Another reason why companies choose lean manufacturing over any other type is because they might be on a restricted budget and they can’t afford to generate waste.  Yet another reason could lie in a company’s awareness or desire to protect the environment through lean manufacturing.  Whatever the reason to opt for this efficient manufacturing strategy, when companies do decide to get into the lean game, they need to be wary of committing some common mistakes that lead to failure instead of success.  Here are some of the most common lean manufacturing mistakes.

1 . Not committing to the long run

Lean manufacturing is something that requires commitment and consistency.  It’s a manufacturing process that believes there is always room for improvement and that waste can always be reduced along different steps of the process.  Companies often times get comfortable and feel they don’t need to look into making production processes more efficient.  Entering this comfort zone will surely lead to failure down the line.  Another reason companies decide to stop continuing the lean manufacturing process and leave things as they are is because they are tired of all the effort it requires.  This is unacceptable in lean manufacturing as there is no room for laziness.  Companies need to understand that committing to lean manufacturing is a commitment to constant analysis and the search form making the production line more efficient across the board.

2.  Too much and too soon

It quite normal to want to make the production as efficient and as soon as possible.  This leads some companies looking to implement lean manufacturing to take drastic measures when it comes to reducing waste.  They are often forgetting that lean manufacturing is a marathon and not a sprint.  Making drastic changes along the production line, instead of gradual ones, could very well lead to failure.  Companies need to make sure that employees have time to adjust to the changes and that they don’t generate panic or get overwhelmed by them.  The latter is something that can easily happen if companies decide to make exaggerated changes in an effort to cut waste to minimum levels at record times.  

post it_lean manufacturing_logistics
Image courtesy of Lukas at Pexels.com

3.  Insufficient employee training

Optimized lean manufacturing strategies can only go as far as the level of training employees receive to reduce waste.  Once-in-a-while training sessions will not be enough to have an efficient production line.  Employees need to have a firm grasp on the concept of lean manufacturing and how it can benefit the company and their overall well-being.  They must be constantly trained to be able to detect where the production line can become more efficient.  They should also be encouraged to constantly brainstorm different strategies they deem can make production reduce the amount of waste that is generated by the company.  Without sufficient training, it will be hard for employees to understand the importance and benefits of lean manufacturing and that in turn will make it harder for them to commit to it.  If employees receive the right amount of training, it’s up to the company to audit the results and see whether employees have taken it seriously.  This audit should also lead to further improvement by employees.

4.  Copying someone else’s strategy

Companies love to adapt what has worked for other companies into their own culture expecting to have the same results.  What they forget to keep in mind is that every company is unique, being part of the same industry is irrelevant when it comes to lean manufacturing.  Borrowing a foreign strategy fails to take into consideration company practices and they will often be incompatible with a competitor’s lean manufacturing strategy.  A company needs to choose a lean manufacturing strategy that can fit the company and not an outsider’s.  This will only be achieved if the company takes some time to analyze where and how on the production line they can make considerable efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated without sacrificing quality.

Lean manufacturing can only help a company as long as a company is truly committed to it.  In other words, the company must understand that it a long process and not something than can be achieved overnight.  Furthermore, the company needs to make sure it trains its employees so that they can truly be one-hundred percent behind lean manufacturing.  Finally, the decision to go forward with lean manufacturing and the success it can offer will only work if the company has done some looking in the mirror and analyzed what needs to be done without looking to company another company’s strategy.  

* Featured Image courtesy of Mike at Pexels.com

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