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Lean vision, principles and Lean profit potential

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THE characteristics of the Lean organisation and the Lean supply chain are described clearly in the book ‘Lean Thinking - Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation’ by Jim Womack and Dan Jones.

This book provides a vision of a world transformed from mass production to a lean enterprise.

The authors highlight the huge amounts of waste that occur in most organisations and show that a systematic attack on waste, both within companies and along the supply chains, can have tremendous benefits to the short run profitability and long term prospects of companies and organisations.

Lean production methods were pioneered by Toyota in Japan.

Lean Thinking distills the essence of the lean approach into five key principles and shows how the concepts can be extended beyond automotive production to any company or organisation, in any sector, in any country.

The five lean principles

1. Specify what does and does not create value from the customer's perspective and not from the perspective of individual firms, functions and departments.

2. Identify all the steps necessary to design, order and produce the product across the whole value stream to highlight non value adding waste.

3. Make those actions that create value flow without interruption, detours, backflows, waiting or scrap.

4. Only make what is pulled by the customer.

5. Strive for perfection by continually removing successive layers of waste as they are uncovered.

These principles are fundamental to the elimination of waste. They are easy to remember (although not always easy to achieve!) and should be the guide for everyone in the organisation who becomes involved in the Lean transformation.

If anyone is serious about going Lean then they need to read the Lean Thinking book at the outset.

* Professor Peter Hines is Director of the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff Business School in the UK and Chairman of SA Partners. The LERC is the largest worldwide research centre dedicated to the study of Lean Thinking. Peter is working within Australia with InteLog to help bring these learnings to Australia.

Andrew Stewart is Managing Director of InteLog. InteLog is the leading Lean Enterprise implementation and training group in the Asia Pacific area. InteLog work with Professor Peter Hines and represent SA Partners, bringing the latest proven Lean implementation and training material and experience to companies and institutions in this region.

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