Empowering Lean Solutions for Everyone

Lean Implementation Steps

There are some Basic Rules for the Lean Implementation if you are interested.

To keep it clear and concise I’d like to refer to the implementation steps that worked the best, from my experience.

Surely your business has some business objectives that span across many years to come. But, how do you align the operating strategy to meet those business objectives?

Suggested Lean Implementation Steps

1. Lean Leadership

First, start by bringing together your operating committee or senior management team that will provide the support and resources required to start this process. Without their commitment and dedication, things will get tough.

2. Lean Fundamentals Training

Send them out for lean overview training. They need to be trained in lean, to be able to understand it and believe in it.

3.Value Stream Mapping Training It would be a good idea to have them attend a workshop for value stream mapping as well.4. Plant Tours

Visit with your leadership team some companies (non-competitive businesses) that are more advanced in the lean implementation. Learn from them how they did it, ask questions.

5. Change Agent

You may want to either appoint somebody from your managing team as a change agent or hire an experienced Lean Manufacturing Manager.

Also, you need to have Value Stream Manager(s). If you have a main product or family of products one person is enough. For products that are quite different as far as the process flow goes, you may need to have multiple VSM managers.

They can be people who are the most familiar with the product, such as engineers, the plant manager, somebody who has the authority to make changes in the plant and be responsible for the overall quality, delivery and total cost of the product.

6. Value Stream Map Workshop (VSM)

Use the (VSM) to visualize the product flow for your major products, the information flow related to the product and valuable information related to non-value added content, system constraints etc. In other words, you get some of your baseline process measurables.

Brainstorm and mark opportunities for improvement on the Current State Map

Draw the Future State Map, which represents an ideal state at this stage.

Developing a Value Stream Map is a key lean implementation step.

7. Lean Implementation Plan

With the information from the workshop, write down the lean implementation plan, with responsibilities and due dates.

With the above information you can create the Operating Strategy. This means expressing in words what you plan to do to make sure that the road you are traveling goes the same way as the dream you have for the business. It is about expressing your vision.

8. Policy Deployment

Communicate the vision to the whole company through meetings and presentations. Some companies call this activity Policy Deployment.

9. Master Plan

Develop and post the Master Plan, which is in fact the lean implementation plan, with some additions, to reflect other aspects of the business, such as Safety or Morale.

10. Partnership with the Union (if your case)

If you have a union in your company, please make sure that you are in this together. Commitment and support are crucial for your success. It is, after all, a matter of survival for everybody.

11. Training Requirements

Based on your circumstances, determine the training needs of your organization and the people who are going to attend specific lean workshops.

12. Seven Wastes Training

Learn to see the wastes (overproduction, excess inventories, material movement, excessive motion, waiting, defects, too much processing steps, and the under-utilization of your resources – number eight). In general this training is provided in the overview part of the lean implementation.

If not, please spend some time to understand the implications and do a workshop where the employees can come up with examples for each form of waste.

13. 5S Workshop

The strategy of implementing 5S in you company can be different. It is an extremely powerful lean tool. Make sure, though, that you keep always in mind the Seven Wastes, as the 5S program should help minimize the waste and not create even more (i.e. by having people walk more to get to their tools just because they are now removed from the work cell).

  1. Pilot SiteI’ve seen plants where it all started with a pilot site, where a small team of people led by a 5S Champion (either somebody previously trained in 5S, the Lean Manufacturing Manager, or a lean consultant) performed a small workshop in a work cell or a product line.Then, with the lessons learned, 5S was implemented in the whole plant
  2. Plant WideYou can begin the implementation right here, instead of using the pilot site.The Lean Manufacturing Manager / 5S Champion / Lean consultant leads the 5S workshop plant wide.It starts with red-tagging all the excess equipment, materials, etc from the whole plant and continues with all the other activities.It requires at least partial plant shutdown time (2-3 days), as everybody is engaged in this activity and the equipment is being re-arranged or cleaned as well.One alternative is to do it on half the plant at a time and continue throughout the week until it’s done.

14.Visual Factory

It is, in fact, part of the 5S Program but it’s good to emphasize its importance separately, as part of the lean implementation.

I found that, for me, it went beyond 5S because I was able to look at the plant as a whole rather than as disconnected areas, each with its own 5S score and open issues.

It is a management tool as we try to open lines of communication between departments and make it easy to see if we are on track with the production numbers, quality issues, deliveries, safety concerns and on and on.

The following are lean manufacturing tools you can use in no particular order, depending where you hurt more.

If the major issues are with the machine uptime, probably a good way to continue is by implementing:

15. Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

If your concerns are related to the poor quality, you’d like to continue with:

16.Error Proofing (Poka Yoke)

The field is also related to the principle of Jidoka and with Autonomation.

If delivery of your parts is a major issue, surely you’ll continue by investigating:

17. Continuous flow or even better, one-piece flow

This is the main component of the Toyota version of lean manufacturing, or what is called
Just-In-Time Manufacturing.

Luckily, it is also part of the Value Stream Mapping optimization process so it’s been addressed at that early stage of the lean implementation.

18. Kanban System

Pull System Whenever you cannot implement continuous flow, a production trigger based on withdrawal of previously made parts is the solution. Especially when you have monumental equipment (i.e. stamping press) it’s obvious you cannot attain one-piece flow. Then, a controlled batch size and a Kanban system will be utilized.

19. Level Production

It uses a Heijunka box, which is just a way of organizing the production requirements in order to minimize the fluctuation in production numbers and product type.

20. SMED (Quick Changeover)

If you have considerable changeover or setup time, this is a good tool to investigate. The name came from the success in changing dies rapidly and it means Single-Minute-Exchange-of-Die.

21. Kaizen Program

I’d like to finish by mentioning this powerful methodology of continuous improvement. It embraces every aspect of the lean implementation.

Such a program should be part of every business as it provides the framework for any valuable change no matter how small. It can be used in many ways, such as:

  • An employee suggestion program or as
  • Small workshops (3-5 days) with a precise goal in mind.