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Lean Products for Lean Production ( An Essence of Healthy Sound Business Management )
Posted: Feb 01, 2016
Lean Manufacturing is all about getting the customer what they need, when they need it, in the quantity they require. This core concept is called Just-in-Time. If this is what you aim to give your customer, shouldn't you expect the same when you purchase products from a third party? Your purchases of supplies should follow this same principle. You should buy the Lean products you need, when you need them, in the quantity that you require. Most importantly however, you must make sure that these products help you pass that Just-in-Time service onto your customers.
By Lean products, I am referring to items purchased from a third party that help you facilitate Lean implementation. This might include 5S Red Tags, colour-coding materials, supplies for making visual communications boards, and standard forms. Despite what might seem like a niche market, there are plenty of options available. For example, there is not just one way to format the fields of a Red Tag. Different industries and businesses have different requirement. You should experiment with different formats to find the one that works for you. You should experiment just like you would with your processes. After all, process improvement is itself a process that needs to be improved (that’s so ‘meta’).
Maybe you tried one type of improvement tool from one supplier, and it failed. That’s not a reason to give up on Lean or even that particular type of product. Just like with any other problem, you need to ask ‘why’ repeatedly. When you get to the root cause, that will either help you improve the tools your using, or guide you in the direction of other tool that would suit your needs better.
Of course all this takes time and you want to get off to a good start. Instead of starting from scratch you should get your supplies from a reputable source that understands and has experience with real world Lean implementation. Yes, Red Tags and standard work forms are just pieces of paper, but so is every book you've ever read (eBooks excluded). Clearly, not all pieces of paper are created equal. In the end, the speed and success of you Lean improvement efforts will rely on more than just the tools you use. It will rely on the ability of your entire organization to continuously experiment and improve those tools to adapt to different needs. Eventually you will develop your own tools and your own unique approach. Then you will have to look into create your own custom supplies from the ground up.
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