Introducing the House of Lean

Lean manufacturing is a systematic methodology used to reduce wastes in the process while improving productivity and sustaining or improving the value of the product for the consumer. Many concepts, principles, and strategies fall under the umbrella of Lean The concepts and principles of Lean manufacturing are often referred to as a house: a strong foundation of leadership and employees, the walls of the house that optimize processes, and finally the roof that signifies customer focus.

The Foundation

Just like any other house being built, the House of Lean will need a strong foundation. The foundation of the House of Lean consists of managers, supervisors, workers, trust, and goals.

An organization’s leadership team must be on board and thoroughly involved with Lean methodologies in order to succeed. This will help in getting employees on board with Lean and empower them to contribute their input or make valuable suggestions. Trust will need to be built between upper-level management and workers in order to create standardized practices, and people will need to work together to set achievable goals.

The Walls

The walls of the Lean house are the core of the Lean methodology and focuses optimizing the processes that are in place. Lean optimizes processes through a number of tools and strategies, and the ones that are make up the wall will be specific to the facility. For instance, if a facility is trying to eliminate waste during the manufacturing processes ad the workplace is cluttered or disorganized, they could use the Lean practice of 5S. Other Lean tools that could be included as the “walls” of the House of Lean are tools like Kanban, JIT Production, the Five Whys, and Jidoka. When these strategies are implemented in a facility who spent time and effort building a solid foundation, results can be drastic.  

The Roof

At the top of the House of Lean is the customer focus. The optimization from the previous step is only beneficial if the customer is still satisfied with the outcome. It is important to keep the customer’s specific wants and needs in mind when implementing Lean strategies.  Using Six Sigma principles or drawing a Value Stream Map can highlight not only areas of waste, but areas that are taking away value from the customer. Getting an overview of this will help you decide where improvements need to be made and how they can be changed.

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