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What is Lean Management?

5S Lean Manufacturing Guide
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Written by Steve Hudgik

Dr. Howard S. Gitlow of the University of Miami Business School defines lean management as:

"Lean management is a management style that promotes reducing waste through the elimination of non-value added activities (streamlining operations), eliminating work in process and inventory, and increasing productive flexibility and speed of employees and equipment."

It can simply be stated that "lean management" is managing resources in a lean manufacturing environment. If you are implementing lean principles, then lean needs to be included as a part of the management process. Management must change to have a lean focus.

Traditional management focuses on results. We set result oriented goals and drive everything to meet those goals. Lean management also includes a focus on how the results are achieved.

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The 5S System is a Japanese-originated management tool for improving workplace efficiency

For example, if a management goal is to have same-day shipping. The traditional approach is to stock everything in the warehouse in large quantities. That ensures product will always be available to ship. The lean management approach looks at managing that inventory, evaluating the cost of maintaining the inventory vs. alternative methods of achieving same-day shipping. Lean management looks at ways to coordinate production such that inventory is continuously replaced just in time to be shipped to customers. This eliminates wasted space used for inventory. This eliminates wasted capital tied up in inventory. This eliminates wasted man-hours used to maintain and manage the inventory.

We typically think of lean management being the management of the production process. But, lean management involves managing all aspects of a business, including:

  • Managing Inventory - have less inventory and higher inventory turns
  • Managing Human Resources - having the right people and skills
  • Managing Materials (purchasing...) - includes supply chain management
  • Managing Finances - the efficient use of capital

The goal of lean management is to identify waste and inefficiencies, and find ways to eliminate it. In most cases this done using lean techniques such as kaizen, that harness the knowledge of employees.

Lean management and safety

Safety is a crucial part of lean management. Injuries and health issues are simply another form of waste. The consequences of poor safety are tragic in the impact it has on people and families. It is a good practice to pursue safety for those reasons only. But poor safety also has a broader impact on profits, quality and customer satisfaction that can be addressed through lean management.

Poor safety can be considered another form of waste that needs to be eliminated. Poor safety results in lost time, lost productivity and the loss of skills through higher employee turnover. Improving safety is an integral part of lean management targeted at eliminating waste.

Lean Management and The Customer

Lean management also puts the focus on the customer. This can either be internal or external customers. For example, lean management looks at the steps in a process and identifies those that are not adding value for the customer. Those are waste and can be eliminated. Lean management also means looking at customer needs and identifying those that are not currently being met by the product. This results in opportunities to eliminate wasted opportunities and gain a competitive advantage through product improvements.

Lean Management Use Of Labels And Signs

Implementing lean management and lean techniques throughout an organization means change. Labels and signs are used to help employees understand the change and make necessary changes permanent. Change also means a greater potential for safety hazards. Using labels and signs to warn employees about changes and new hazards is critical for successful change.

The label and sign printers that have the power, efficiency and capabilities to completely support lean management are DuraLabel printers. For example, there are more types of supplies available for DuraLabel printers than for any other printer. This means you can always get the right supply for the job. Call 1-888-326-9244 today to find out more about DuraLabel printers and supplies.

Duralabel also provides Free Kanban and Kaizen Lean Manufacturing Guides;

Free Kanban Guide for Tool Crib Management

Learn about Tool Crib Management and other Kanban Techniques

The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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