Over the last decade British manufacturing and engineering companies have often identified that being LEAN is the way forward in becoming more efficient and intern improves bottom line. However LEAN is not merely a 5’s exercise on a Friday afternoon, or a Kaizen event every 6 months. It is a cultural change that takes time and consistency. It is a journey that will reward both shop floor and senior management and LEAN tools are just the visual aspects- the top of the iceberg in essence. So how do you assess whether your company really is LEAN?

By assessing a companies objectives, goals and strategies you will be able to learn weather the LEAN journey has the fundamentals in place which are the foundations of the lean journey – the bottom of the iceberg which are not visible for all to see. Lean tools should be focused upon improving the efficiency of the businesses as a whole not just in one area.

The actual delivery of implementing Lean through the business is critical and is often left in the hands of managers who may not necessarily have the right skill set. Consultants are often hired for 3-4 months to “roll out” lean across a company but what happens when they leave? A clear structure needs to be put in place to identify and continuously train managers in order for the lean changes to be long lasting.

Another question that needs to be addressed is “what is the actual problem”. Communications between senior managers, line managers and shop floor needs to be very efficient. Without this employees will not be working together to implement lean tools on the actual problem(s). Too much time is wasted on trying to get solutions for problems which do not affect the overall business.

Lean manufacturing principles have been rolled out in 1000’s of the UK’s manufacturing and engineering businesses over the years. However if you asked a shop floor worker after 6-12 months “what has lean done for you and your role?” the answer will tell you whether or not LEAN is embedded into the culture of the company and not merely a buzz word.

For more information on Lean manufacturing principles including 5’s, JIT, Kanban, Kaizen please check out our other Articles!

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