A lot has been said and discussed on how lean techniques can bring a positive change in your organizational structure and functioning. But the very natural question which arises is ‘How do you do this?’; ‘Are there any tools for Lean transformation?’
The answer surely is a big YES! Lean methodology has a wide array of tools which can improve your manufacturing operations. You can always explore more about lean tools as per the requirements of your organization. Though the list of useful tools is an exhaustive one, here is a basic list of tools which will usher in lean thinking in your organization. The popular lean tools are:
We begin the list with one of the most effective lean tool for every work area, namely 5S. Now the ‘5S’ are:
- Sort – Eliminate unnecessary elements/ items
- Set in Order – Organize the remaining elements/ items
- Shine – Clean and Inspect your work area
- Standardize – Set standards for Cleanup
- Sustain – Regularly apply the standards
This is a very basic and yet very essential tool for manufacturing units as it eliminates the wastage of time and effort due to poor organization of the work area. For example the time wasted by workers in finding their tools can be saved if there is an allotted area where tools need to be kept.
A bottleneck is a constraint in the supply chain due to which more time is taken by the resource to complete the task. A bottleneck analysis brings focus on the critical issues which need to be addressed for better performance of the unit. This tool helps in improving the throughput by strengthening the weakest link in the manufacturing process.
Gemba (The Real Place)
Gemba is Japanese for ‘the real place’. It basically refers to the ideas that problems are usually visible when you make observations of actions in process. All one needs to do is get out of the office and walk into the plant floor – a place where the real action takes place.
The main aim of this tool is to give a first- hand observation of the manufacturing process by talking with the plant floor employees and thereby instilling a deep and thorough understanding of real-world manufacturing issues.
Also known as ‘autonomation with human touch’ this tool used for the supervisory function. It is designed to partially automate the manufacturing process and automatically stops whenever defects are detected. With this tool not only are the quality issues kept in check, but now the workers can also monitor multiple work stations which will ultimately bring down your labour cost.
Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment)
This tool makes it a point that the strategic goals of a company drive action and progress at all the levels within that company. That is each and every unit of the company works and progresses towards achieving the well-defined strategic goal of the organization. This is done by aligning the goals of the company (Strategy), with the plans of middle management (Tactics) and the work performed on the plant floor (Action).
This method does-away with all the waste which occurs due to poor communication and inconsistent directions.
Thus these are some of the basic tools which you can deploy for lean transformation of your organization/ manufacturing unit. You can either use them in isolation or synergize them in order to get better and long lasting results.