Lean Management, Kaizen, Just in Time

Lean Management

Lean management is an approach to continuous process optimization and encompasses the efficient design of the entire value chain. With the help of various lean methods, procedures and thinking principles, “lean management” pursues the goal of harmonizing processes and creating a holistic production system without waste. And it does so across all areas of the company.

How do you introduce lean management into a company? Let’s look at how our customerToyota does it. The rules for organizing production in this way were first formulated in the factories of the Japanese car manufacturer.

The Toyota Production System has managed to grow beyond the production facilities in Japan and is currently making its way around the world. This is not unusual. Isn’t the company’s goal economic, efficient and resource-saving production? How can such results be achieved? First of all, you have to keep scrutinizing the operation, analyzing the processes and thinking about how to adapt them to changing conditions. Processes become obsolete faster than we think. What worked well a few years ago may mean that the product no longer meets customer requirements, and employees may be more focused on compliance than on performing their jobs.

Elements of Lean Management

To carry out such observations and put the conclusions into practice, of course, you need the right tools. Lean management is composed of many useful elements:

Kaizen

 

Kaizen can be called the crown of lean management. This Japanese methodology is closely related to the already mentioned participation of employees in improving the work of the company. And how do you involve the employees? First and foremost, you have to give them good tools. This is where Kaizen comes in. This method assumes that everyone who works in the company knows his tasks and how to do them best.

Therefore, he has reasons to make suggestions for improvement to his superiors, and he should be allowed and encouraged to do so. How to introduce Kaizen in the company? Every company has its own way of doing this. Some have a conversation with a manager, others have employees fill out appropriate Excel spreadsheets.

However, more and more companies are looking for an electronic replacement for such analog processes. A special system where an employee can quickly and effortlessly submit an idea is the future of kaizen, and it even works in the company that invented the whole concept – Toyota’s manufacturing plants. So much for kaizen theory. Examples? Check out our Case Study to see how Kaizen works at Toyota’s Wałbrzych and Jelcz-Laskowice plants. 

More information about vKaizen is available here.

Just in Time

Just in Time is a method of production management. Even the name (just in time) gives an idea of what is meant by it. Just in Time assumes that every part delivered to the production floor should be there exactly when it is needed. Let’s consider this situation in the natural environment, i.e., the assembly line. There should only be as many parts in the hall as are needed at any given time, so that production runs smoothly, without downtime, and efficiently. This requires a good logistics system – so that as many parts are constantly delivered from the warehouse to the production site as the assemblers regularly use. This way, the parts are not lying in the hall, do not get damaged, and the fitters always have something to do. This increases efficiency and enables resources to be used sparingly.

Perhaps the Just in Time example will help you better understand the specifics of this methodology – take a look at our solution for the Toyota plant in Wałbrzych – this is the methodology in its pure form! Of course, these are not all the tools available to lean management. During the use of this system in the market, many variants of Just in Time and Kaizen variants were created not only for production.

Benefits of Lean Management

There are some unflattering and damaging clichés attached to “lean management.” Those who have come into contact with this simplified, incomplete or distorted version may associate it only with continuous audits, standards to be developed or extensive work control. However, the assumptions of lean management are completely different. First and foremost, it’s about working together to improve work – not about control, but about working together to make procedures work for everyone in the company and to make production run better.

The benefits a company can derive from lean management are obvious:

  • More efficient, customized production,
  • Real involvement of employees in the life of the company,
  • Reduction in waste of resources,
  • Dynamic, more human processes.