We haven’t heard much from the False Gods lately. Perhaps our rapid identification and interdiction of their new battle front forced them into retreat. Earlier this month they dared poke their squirrelly heads above the sand, so I guess we better take a pot shot out of sheer boredom. Let’s first take a look at their cowardly attack.
Let’s come clean – lean manufacturing isn”t living up to everyone”s
expectations. While some well-known companies such as Toyota have
attributed success to their lean manufacturing approach, others are
still struggling to realise the improvements they expected. A
survey from management consulting firm Bain & Company finds that
just 19 per cent of companies that have tried lean manufacturing
principles are happy with their results. So what is standing in the way
of better returns?
Ah yes, the same old Bain study. It is accurate, but is being used by every nickel consultant to peddle a variety of "solutions." Being a minion of a false god, what does this particular author believe the problem is?
The key concepts surrounding lean manufacturing were defined 40 years
ago and today”s manufacturers inevitably face new trends and
challenges. One new trend is mixed-mode manufacturing whereby elements
of build-to-order, engineer-to-order, and assemble-to-order can be
applied to support an ever-increasing product portfolio and fluctuating
demand profile. This model is more complex than the simple
make-to-replenish model, and Lean practitioners are struggling to adapt
lean principles to it.
We’re far more complex, faster, global… you get the picture. So obviously we need…
In today’s complex manufacturing environment, lean manufacturers need IT solutions…
But of course. Not.
As we’ve mentioned time and time again, the real reason for most lean failures is that companies don’t recognize that there are two pillars to lean. The first is the waste reduction, value creation, etc etc that can be effectively implemented with a variety of tools. The second is "respect for people." Understanding the value of the knowledge, creativity, ideas, experience, and commitment of employees. Even when it doesn’t show up on a P&L or balance sheet. Most companies, even ones committed to lean, don’t understand that concept. Those are the companies that tout their lean initiatives while at the same time laying off thousands of workers just to rehire them in some cheaper location.
Let’s briefly get back to the proposed IT solutions, just for grins.
…lean manufacturers need IT solutions that can: Handle hybrid
make-to-order fulfilment models using a single technology framework;
support additional material control techniques beyond traditional
kanban control; use a single application platform capable of addressing
lean requirements during design, operate, sustain and improve phases;
standardise on a technology platform that can handle plant-to-plant
variations; provide a closed-loop environment to drive structured
kaizen improvements using real-time metrics; and maintain the same
level of simplicity, user control and visibility for which lean is
known, while making the enterprise rollout of a lean programme possible.
And be forced to do it the same way over and over, per the methods and processes determined by the software manufacturer. What would happen if you came up with an improvement, a change, that conflicted with those set parameters? Open the checkbook.
Instead of embedding unchangeable complexity into software, you could learn from some real lean companies, even very large companies, that rely more on simple visual controls and simplified processes… and especially the power of people.
Manufacturing really isn’t all that difficult and complex. We just make it that way.