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The job of a lean manufacturing consultant

Many manufacturing businesses hire well versed lean manufacturing consultants to discuss and adapt manufacturing resources to produce a better quality and timely products.

Lean Manufacturing adheres to the concept that any work that doesn't directly add value to a product or service is wasteful and should be eliminated from the process.As customers become more frugal and knowledgeable about the products and services they consume, manufacturers are having to work "leaner" in order to continue providing a quality service or product and still maintain a sound financial bottom line. Lean Manufacturing is a generic philosophy derived from the way Toyota, a Japanese car manufacturer, has continued to provide a technologically advanced product while still meeting the financial demands of both their consumers and their company.

The results companies such as Toyota, General Electric, Motorola, have accomplished using either six sigma or lean manufacturing systems have encouraged many other organizations to follow. As a result, most companies have either a Lean or Six Sigma program in place, but are only utilizing one or the other.
Lean manufacturing is based on the theme of efficient flow. it is the goal to increase efficiency, decrease waste and use empirically tested methods to decide what matters rather than accepting existing methods and ideas. It is often seen as a more refined version of earlier efficiency efforts, building its success on the work of early leaders such as Ford and Toyota and learning from their challenges and mistakes.

Lean principles exclude the statistical tools often required to achieve the process needed to be actually lean. Most practitioners consider these two methods complimentary and while each can result in dramatic improvement, utilizing both approaches.This is why a lean manufacturing consultant must be well aware of both practices, and be willing to advise on key decisions for large corporations and smaller, ground-breaking and expanding start up ventures.The position requires dedication to helping their customers reach a dramatically improved fiscal and productivity goal that will withstand both time and the economy.

Some of the more popular tools in the Lean system include: Value Stream Mapping, 5S (organization of workplace), SMED (set up), kaizan (Japanese for incremental improvement, kanban, standard work, TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness, one piece, continuous flow, pull systems, takt time and line balance.

These disciplines take time to learn. The application requires soft skills in dealing with people and implementing the processes as a cultural business change which can be incredibly difficult when dealing with long term business practices. When these tools are mastered by managers and employees who are on the front line many problems can be solved quickly and end up yielding huge gains in productivity, cycle time, inventory and sales.

The ideal candidate for a lean manufacturing consultant position will give his customers a competitive lead in their industry. Accomplished with the development and implementation of effective processes, it may require everyone to learn new approaches and develop new or previously untapped skills.

As a consultant, the ideal candidate will serve as an engineering or manufacturing expert on a select team dedicated to boosting clients in their quest to achieve high performance. The position requires creative and innovative approaches to analysis and design.The consultant must be able to adapt lean manufacturing concepts for a highly diverse group of clientele as organizations will vary in size, product offerings, demands, fiscal standings and timelines.

It is important for companies to search for a consultant who will work best for your needs. Due diligence in selecting the right person is imperative and many great suggestions come from other like-minded manufacturing companies or other business consultants.

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