Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Lean Thinking and Transferring Lean Management - the Best Defence against an Economic Recession?

Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Lean Thinking and Transferring Lean Management - the Best Defence against an Economic Recession?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The lean philosophy is all about eliminating waste and synchronizing necessities in order to, on the short and long term, meet the requirements of the market. The lean philosophy is expressed in several different statements: achieving more with less people, reducing non-value-adding activities, slimming etc. Lean is often associated with efficiency, reducing surplus. This however, is only one side of the lean philosophy. An essential aspect of the lean philosophy is a continuous striving for flawless products, that can be delivered on demand, customer specific, without wasting material, labour hours, and other resources (energy) in a safe (both physical, emotional as well as professional) working environment. The lean philosophy is a continuous improvement philosophy. There are several methods and techniques that can be used to become leaner.

Lean enterprise is a business system for organizing and managing product development, operations, suppliers, and customer relations. Businesses and other organizations use lean principles, practices, and tools to create precise customer value - goods and services with higher quality and fewer defects - with less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time than the traditional system of mass production. Using Lean principles, manufacturers have made significant improvements to their operations, from improved productivity, increased resource utilization, to a more accurate understanding of product costs. One area where manufacturers may not have thought to apply Lean management is the workforce. But as labour pressures increase and margins tighten, savvy manufacturers are turning their attention to the workforce, and discovering that Lean can help them increase workforce flexibility and agility, and improve their bottom line. A flexible, motivated workforce is the central component of a successful Lean program. Applying Lean principles to the workforce can play a critical role in ensuring that labour is aligned to demand, which in turn can result in lower costs and shorter lead times. There are three primary areas of improvement that manufacturers should focus on to achieve Lean improvement in the workforce:

* Identifying non value-added labour.

* Measuring and managing variability.

* Motivating the workforce.

In Lean manufacturing waste is anything that adds to the time and cost of making a product, but does not add value from the customer's point of view. Value-added activities transform products into something the customer wants. Non value-added activities are meaningless to customers, and as a result, customers are not willing to pay for them. Examples of non value-added activities include moving WIP between departments that are organized functionally, or building a defective product. The labour wasted in non value-added activities can be significant, and unless manufacturers are able to accurately measure this waste, it can be difficult to identify and eradicate. There are two areas where manufacturers can look for this waste: documented and undocumented non value-added steps and events.

These years, manufacturing functions have been transferred rapidly and globally from mature countries to emerging countries. Even global industries, which have a multi- national basis, are trying to make aggressive direct investment to new operation sites where low procurement cost of manufacturing resources and rapid economic growth are expected. However, in such situations, there are usually serious shortages of labour resources with necessary skills, facility resources with necessary functions as well as proper maintenance functions, suppliers with required performance, etc. Then, companies have another burden of these new management problems. To overcome these tough problems, management technology such as improvement methods carries out significant role for many years in Japan. This technology is supposed to perform its relevant role to cope with new dimensional management problem solving in current ongoing rapid globalization. …

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