Paloma Consulting provides business improvement consultancy and training, using Lean as one of the key methodologies to help organisations improve performance.
"Lean" encompasses both a philosophy and a series of tools and techniques designed to identify and eliminate waste from business processes in order to create more value for customers using ever fewer resources. A Lean organisation works towards being able to respond easily to changing demand and the ever increasing requirement for high variety, high quality, low cost, and rapid throughput times.
The focus of Lean is to eliminate waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, to create processes which require less space, less capital, less time and less effort to make products and services at lower costs and with far fewer defects, compared with traditional business approaches. Also, information management becomes simpler and more accurate.
Lean methods are delivering significant results in all types of public sector, service and manufacturing organisations.
There is no need to use the word Lean. Lean is not a programme or a cost reduction initiative, but the way in which an organisation operates. A Lean transformation is sometimes used to describe how an organisation moves to a new way of thinking.
Lean training can take many forms from the learning of particular Lean tools to improvement workshops involving the whole organisation. Paloma Consulting's Lean training is tailored to the requirements of the organisation and trainees. An initial consultation or Lean assessment may be conducted prior to Lean training to identify areas for application of Lean techniques and enable training to deliver successful improvements. Lean training is best undertaken in a practical context so that where possible the tools are practised in real situations as they are learnt. Workshops are a very effective way of involving a cross section of employees and empowering them to make changes in their work place by applying a selection of tools and techniques. Small teams working on projects make cost effective improvements within a few days. As this is repeated throughout the organisation the methodology is spread and becomes adopted as standard practice.
A brief look at some simple Lean tools and acronyms
Value stream analysis (VSA) (or value stream mapping (VSM)) has the objective of eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points. Value stream analysis generates improvement projects directed at removing the identified waste.
"5S" is a waste removal technique applied in facilitated workshops to create space, reduce work in process and warehousing cost.
Flow or Pull system projects are used to produce products only on demand, thereby avoiding wasteful activities and storage. Defects are also exposed more quickly and can be addressed immediately.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) identifies preventative tasks that staff do themselves in regular planned schedules, freeing maintenance specialists to focus on more complex tasks.
In Quick Changeover workshops, in order to change from production of one product or service to another as fast as possible, teams are guided to identify tasks that can be carried out beforehand in readiness for the changeover. They also study how the time needed to carry out remaining changeover activities can be reduced, thus creating faster throughput at the same cost. An example of where Quick Changeover is vital is in a formula one pit stop.
Increasingly, organisations are seeing the benefits of combining the tools of the Lean methodology with Six Sigma to solve business issues where improvements in both waste and defect reduction are required.