Lean management was created by Toyota in Japan and introduced into its factories in the 1970s. It is a methodology that focuses on lean management. Mainly used in the automotive industry, Lean management is a way of thinking and acting that can be applied to all types of businesses, industries and services.
The philosophy of Lean is the pursuit of performance (in terms of productivity, quality, lead times and costs) through continuous improvement and waste elimination, in order to satisfy the customer. For simplicity, the Lean method provides high quality work with minimal money, resources and time. The aim is to optimize the performance of processes by using the methods, techniques and practices already available in the company.
Principles of Lean Management | Methodology
Lean management can be defined as the participation of all employees of a company in the fight against waste by eliminating all unprofitable activities of the company. The goal is therefore to do more, faster and better. But to the great difference of Taylorism, Lean management takes into account the well-being of employees. The objective is to increase productivity while improving working conditions. Employees are involved both in the fight against waste and the improvement of their working conditions.
The aim of this approach is to eliminate all unnecessary elements in the manufacturing or production process, such as waiting times that impede fluidity, unnecessary shifts that waste time, overproduction that generates excessive inventories, inadequate gestures and inadequate tools, or non-optimal working positions … In short, everything that can be termed waste and penalizes production times.
The Lean methodology seeks to actively solve production problems at different levels of the company (supply, production and distribution). Thus waste is reduced by:
- The elimination of overproduction
- The decrease in stocks
- The control of delays
- Better management of transport
- Better quality by reducing defects
- The effective management of skills
- The optimization of communication and training
- Reduction of costs.
Process of Lean Management | Methodology
Lean management distinguishes seven sources of common waste:
- Overproduction: excessive production in relation to customer needs, resulting in unnecessary inventories.
- Unnecessary stocks: since the production processes are not optimized, more production is produced so as not to miss when needed.
- Waiting times: attention to bottlenecks that prevent the fluidity of production processes.
- Handling and transport activities: Optimize production site locations to eliminate unnecessary conveyances.
- Superfluous treatments: avoid unnecessary machining and processing that does not create added value.
- Unnecessary movements: streamline employee movements and movements to avoid wasted time.
- Manufacturing defects: it is important to do well on the first attempt to avoid touch-ups and scrap.
The philosophy of the Lean methodology lies in the fundamental principle of continuous improvement. By eliminating the sources of inefficiency and by mobilizing the team around common objectives, Lean management makes it possible to:
- Decrease inventories and the length of production cycles,
- Increase productivity,
- Improve quality.
To apply Lean management, companies can use different tools or methods such as:
- The 5S method: often the first step in any quality process, the objective of this approach is to guarantee the cleanliness, safety and good organization of the workplace.
- The Kaizen: this is a process for the continuous improvement of an organization day by day, with the participation of all employees.
- The SMED method: the aim of this method is to minimize the tool change time.
- Les Six Sigma: This management method is to improve the quality and process efficiency.
- The Kanban: this is a stock management method that allows production on demand.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Lean Management
Lean management has a positive impact on the well-being of employees who work differently and are subject to less stress. Moreover, including them in the improvement process is valuable to them, and allows raising points that the management had not seen.
The Lean methodology reduces costs, making it an effective tool against relocation.
On the other hand, some companies apply the principles of Lean management for the sole purpose of increasing their productivity, without worrying about the quality of work of its employees. The cadences are then accelerated and the displacements reduced to the minimum, or even totally suppressed. The tasks are divided and the employees become ultra specialized, which is devaluing. Under these conditions, stress, fatigue, the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and occupational diseases develop more and the morale of employees is decreasing. We move away from the Lean’s original objective to get closer to Taylorism.
The Lean methodology aims to reduce or eliminate all unprofitable activities of a company. This method has its limits, but if properly applied, it makes it possible to reconcile productivity and quality of work. So, if you opt for the Lean methodology, do not neglect the welfare of your employees. It is essential that they retain their enthusiasm and motivation to continue performing in their daily tasks.