Categories : Lean Manufacturing Principles


The number one question that I see coming up time and time again is: How to implement manufacturing? As many executive management teams and business owners are being forced by the economy to step back and take a look at their operations to see how they can improve their processes, reduce costs and improve value for their customers.

The problem arises when companies are coming from the position of not knowing anything about how to implement lean  manufacturing principles into their business practices. Many will take a “do it yourself“ approach, while others will drive organizational change at a fanatical pace and at any cost. While both of these management approaches are commendable for their effort to move their organizations forward, it is a typical example of the polar opposites or extremes at both ends of the lean manufacturing implementation spectrum. It seems to suggest that implementing lean manufacturing principles into your company falls into either of these two categories, “do it yourself” or “get somebody to do it for you.” Neither of these approaches are the best for achieving sustainable long term improvement.

So, what is a good example of the typical and best methodology when it comes to implementing lean manufacturing principles? Here is a great article written by Kim Do-won in the Korea Times News. Kim Do-won is a partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG).


how to implement lean manufacturing

How to Implement Lean Manufacturing?

Companies typically progress through three maturity levels as they improve performance, build expertise, and enjoy the resulting benefits.


At the first level, companies should learn the basics. Entry-level lean practitioners are primarily seeking to eliminate waste in production. Their objectives typically include efficiency gains, cost reductions, improved quality, shorter lead times, and greater flexibility. Companies at this level understand the key lean tools and apply them at local factories but not consistently across the plant network. Through quick wins, they can typically achieve cost savings of 5 to 10 percent, for an immediate impact on the bottom line. Sustaining improvements over time and applying consistent standards across the network are the key challenges that companies must address in order to progress to the next level.


Implementing a system is second level. Companies at this stage are among the top players in their industry. They are moving toward an integrated lean-production system that involves the whole manufacturing network. As a result, they can reduce value-adding costs (that is, all manufacturing costs except for raw materials and other inputs) by 10 to 15 percent, while cutting waste virtually to zero.


Companies at level three have a complete view of their non-value-adding costs. They have devised and implemented advanced techniques such as product segmentation and production & inventory strategy, as well as disciplined sales and operations planning (S&OP).


The optimal production processes have been identified and leveraged using advanced tools such as bill of process (BOP). Most plants and overall equipment efficiency (OEE) levels meet global best-in-class standards. Manufacturing is a key contributor to funding growth.


Moving from one level of lean to the next can be difficult. However, organizations at all levels can create significant value by a continued focus on lean. Recently, we’ve observed that many companies trying to get beyond level one or two have begun implementing shorter, more targeted and effective lean programs. And many at level three are deploying a broader range of advanced techniques…


Read the original article.

I enjoyed reading this article because it makes sense to me based on my own experience working with many client companies, that they do go through different levels of awareness and application as they move forward with their continuous process improvement procedures. I have pondered the question for many years and eventually developed my own structured system that defines how to implement lean manufacturing principles into any business.

It is called “10 Steps to become a Lean Enterprise“ training and implementation model. It takes an individual, group or organization through the necessary steps to implement a lean culture that is capable of supporting sustainable improvements over the long term. It also allows the management team to focus their resources of the right areas of the organization to get the best results in the shortest time.

If you enjoyed reading this article: How to Implement Lean Manufacturing?

You will enjoy reading this one too: What is Lean Production Success?

Featured image by: FreeDigitalPhotos

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