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Why is lean manufacturing such a challenge?

With the great successes of lean manufacturing it makes sense why so many organizations have turned to it. Some companies find that lean manufacturing provides so many benefits to their company like decreased waste, improved waiting time, and customer satisfaction. However even with all of the beneficial lean manufacturing principles there are still some hardships to overcome as you focus on proper implementation.

What makes lean manufacturing a challenge to implement? It usually comes down to the mindsets of the individuals. Mindset changes are difficult to overcome as a lot of people are simply stubborn and do not want to change their mindsets. Believing in a new system is hard for some people because they have worked for the company for many years and they are unwilling to change. You have a lot of people that simply do not want to change and like things the way they are.

Another reason why people struggle to implement lean manufacturing is because identifying the wastes can be a challenge as well. Some people have a hard time understanding that there can be wastes in their department or in their job. A lot of people may end up getting offended by the fact that you try and tell that there are wastes in their job and there are things that need to be fixed. This is why it is often easier to let a lean manufacturing consultant come in and identify these wastes and talk to your employees about it. Quite simply people are afraid of change so when you move forward and want to change things a lot of people are just scared. As the manager you need to show them that you can provide them with high savings in their departments. This will come with improved flexibility and other things that will help you to save money.

Once you get people in the mindset of thinking lean and they want to work hard you need to move into the phase of identifying wastes. Each employee has to work together to help figure out what the root causes are of these various wastes. Once the wastes are identified you will then look for ways to start removing them. The large wastes obviously need to be removed right away as they have the biggest impact on your system. After the big wastes are removed then you can start to get rid of all the little wastes as well. There are a lot of lean manufacturing principles that can be used in order to eliminate these various wastes and improve your overall production process.

Removing the root causes takes a complete system-wide change. Everyone in the organization needs to understand their roles in the lean manufacturing process. The overall process will need a good leader in the top which is a person that has the right training and skill to make it work correctly. The leader will spearhead the overall implementation process and everyone will follow them. Make sure that you take peoples concerns into mind as you move forward with lean manufacturing as not everyone will believe in the program and you will need to find ways to help them change their mindset.

No matter which lean manufacturing tools you end up using you need to focus on removing the wastes and you need measurements that ensure you have actually removed the wastes. You need to remove all the wastes not just some of the wastes or the system has failed. If it does work you will then need to repeat the process several times in other areas to see that lean manufacturing is a system that can work.

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