Lean manufacturing is one of the terms that has went around manufacturing and business circles for quite some time already. Also called “Lean”, this system of manufacturing is synonymous with the view that usage of business resources for goals other than value creation is simply a waste of resources. With lean manufacturing, any company can reduce its costs while at the same time improve the quality of its products, because unnecessary processes will be removed, thus saving money while maintaining the high quality of the products.
There are many principles in lean management, and many of them are simply commonsense advice consolidated into one systematic practice in production.
These principles are:
(1) Companies should strive to understand what customers really want from a product and then push to satisfy the customers’ needs.
(2) Companies should always chase perfection by removing activities that do not give value to the customers.
(3) Employees in companies should actively suggest ways to improve processes.
(4) Whenever something has to be changed in a process, it has to be changed quickly.
(5) Performance of processes and employees should be measurable; feedback should be prompt.
(6) Activities that can be done for improvement should be approached from the perspective of the entire system or entire enterprise.
From the five principles mentioned, different systems for lean manufacturing have emerged. Some of these systems have become standard practice for those in the manufacturing industry; other systems are tailored to meet specific manufacturing needs.
Now for an organization to become fully acquainted with the tenets and the specificities of lean manufacturing, getting lean consultants seem to become the usual procedure nowadays. Lean consultants can confer plenty of benefits. First, it will be easy for the organization to get started because the personnel there don’t have to do extensive research about lean; they just have to get outside consultants who know plenty of concepts and applications of lean. Second, the organization people will feel assured because of the expertise of the consultants. Third, consultants can cover not only the planning but also the implementation and the evaluation of a lean manufacturing scheme.
There are pitfalls, though, to hiring lean consultants. Consulting is quite expensive. Also, if the changes are suggested by someone outside an organization, the organization is unlikely to implement them in the long-term. Thus for an organization to benefit from lean consultants, it should become committed to adding value and removing waste so that the general mindset there will be in favor of lean.