Are You Too Small to Go Lean?
There are many businesses that have benefited from the principles of the Toyota production system, often referred to as lean manufacturing. This type of process helps to streamline an assembly line to the point where it is moving towards single product manufacturing instead of mass producing items all at one time. In doing so, it helps to cut the waste of these larger companies and to be able to improve on the product that is put out so that the customer is more satisfied with what they receive.
Although many large-scale businesses, such as Toyota have been able to properly implement this type of system, there are also many smaller businesses that would like to experience some of the benefits of utilizing lean manufacturing as well. This leads to the question, are there businesses that are too small to implement the processes of lean manufacturing and to benefit from them? The fact is, any business can benefit from these principles although the way that they benefit may differ, depending upon your clientele.
One of the first principles of lean manufacturing is that you need to establish what the customer wants and how you’re going to be able to provide it for them with both quality and price in mind. This is done through a process known as value stream mapping and for larger corporations, this can really be a detailed and difficult process. There are some software solutions that are available to help you with the value stream mapping but it is still going to require that you input the numbers properly to achieve the results that you want.
Small businesses have the upper hand when it comes to value stream mapping, as their clients tend to be more focused, which would require less work on their part. It is still very important for any business to utilize this properly and to make sure that you are looking at numbers that are accurate and complete.
Another very important part of lean manufacturing is communication. The communication needs to flow freely in the business in order for it to implement processes that are going to benefit it. This would be true, even if you only had one employee. Make sure that you establish a method of communication that will lead to more productivity within your business.
As far as the assembly line is concerned, this is not going to be something that every business needs to be concerned about. There are principles in lean manufacturing, however, that can be applied in any business as far as this is concerned. For example, proper utilization of storage space is imperative to make sure that time and effort is not wasted and that your overhead is as low as possible. Cleanliness is also very important for a smooth running business, not only as far as productivity is concerned but for the health and welfare of your employees as well.
Although they may need to be established in different ways, there certainly are many opportunities to go lean with any size business and to benefit from it.