How to start?
Information about TPS have been available for more than 30 years, but only few companies have succeed. Why?
Because Lean Management is similar to search gold, is a long process and same than searchers in the far west, they need to be really committed to find gold, therefore do not expect short time improvements, this is not happening.
Remember: Reduce costs is completely different than eliminate costs, and this is exactly what we are looking for, therefore the key is our people.
Knowledge and experience of your people is key, talent must be developed.
Natural talent is normally 10% of the equation, the resting 90% is learned by practice and effort.
Stars don´t produce a team, is the collection of good players working together, what creates a great team.
However the people in plants have learned in a non organized way, and that´s why they have so many problems.
Companies are failing in the Lean Management because they DON´T identify the critical aspects of the business, they DON´T define an specific method to do the work, they DON´T teach properly to their people the right method, and they DON´T follow up all time to ensure that the method is used by everyone, including specific metrics.
If you don´t believe me, please note that in USA there are more 2 million people that are sick and 100.000 die every year in the hospitals because doctors don´t follow the right procedures including some so simple as wash their hands.
Then, we come back to the question, how to start with Lean Management?
Lean is based in just in time and quality and to achieve there are 4 basic steps:
4º Continuous improvement.
This process takes time, and succeed may take between 3 to 5 years, however the results are unbelivable.
If somebody would tell me that I could reduce my costs in 40% years ago, I wouldn´t believe, but it happened.
So let´s see first step.
The first tool to be used is the value stream map starting from the shipping to the order entry.
And we start at the shipping area because the customer is waiting for an order, so we need to see where are the waste and delays.
Then we will find lot of problems that create MUDA or waste, and then we can classify them: for instance, work in process, quality problems, reworks, no visual control, lack of space, etc.
If you are starting, probably this seems an incredible volumen of work, so just do a simple question: What does the customer want?
This is the way to measure what the customer want, how does he want, how much does he want, and when does he want.
If we know what customer want, we can see a process and separate the steps that add value, than those that don´t.
Any activity must answer this question:
Do this process provide value to customer?
Or in other words, will the customer pay more for my product after doing that work?
This is the easiest way to check if we add value, do only those things that customer is willing to pay, nothing else.
So if you know what customer wants, the rest is what Lean call Muda or waste.
What is Muda?
Anything that add time or cost not adding value.
Now we can check the Muda we do have in our processes and start clasifiying them.
The other steps of Lean Management will come shortly in other posts.