You can’t have Lean flow without an assembly line is a myth we commonly hear. In this blog, we are going to look at how you can apply a Lean flow to any process, regardless of whether it has a production line or not.
What is Lean flow?
Lean flow is a well-known Lean concept regarding the way in which work is processed throughout your business. It is well known to be associated with the Toyota production line, in which Lean thinking evolved. A good Lean flow is when the production moves from one element to another seamlessly without any blockages at the same pace, just like a car manufacturing production line. The principle of Lean flow, however, can apply to any process, with or without an assembly line.
Why do you need Lean flow?
Applying a Lean flow to your processes:
- Will remove the waste from your process
- Synchronise your tasks so they all finish at the same time
- No blockages or wait time
- Give you a predictable rate for tasks
- Produce better lead times
- Add more value to your process
So we know what it is and why you need it, next let’s focus on how you achieve it.
Value Stream Map
The first step towards a Lean flow is to value stream map your current process, to give you a better understanding of the current flow. Value stream mapping identifies all activities that appear along the value stream (work process). This Lean manufacturing technique analyses the flow of materials and information required to bring a product/service to the customer. To create your own VSM follow these simple steps.
- Identify the product/service
- Draw out the current steps from start to finish – the current production flow
- Assess the steps for waste and remove it
- Draw up a new and improved VSM
Set The Measure
Now you have your VSM you need to look at how you can measure your flow, to give you indicators in each step of the process of success. Examples of measurements in the process could be; number of products produced, number of transactions, quotes produced etc. Ensure the metrics are relevant to your process and ones that everyone can understand.
Time For Takt
The next step is to establish your Takt time. Takt is the German word for rhythm and Takt time is simply that, setting the rhythm/pace for your process. To do this take the available production time and divide that by the rate of customer demand. This will set the pace of your production flow to match your customer demand. This is often referred to as the heartbeat of the Lean flow.
Lay It All Out
You now have the VSM, measures, Takt and flow all that is left to put all these ingredients together to create an effective Lean flow in your process. Bring your process together and lay it all out so it flows from one to the other. This should allow you to easily see any potential problems in the process and correct it before it can affect your final target. What you should now have is an effective Lean flow to your process, that is waste-free and adds value to your customer.
There’s Always Room For Improvement
Now that you have fixed your process, it is important to remember that there is always room for improvement. The Lean concept of Continuous Improvement encourages the continued analysis of the process to ensure it is always performing at its best. As business and technology develop you should ensure to develop with it. In summary, keep striving to improve and you will.
Bring Clarity to your process.
Here at Clarity, we are experts in Lean flow, with years of experience in helping our customers cut the waste from their process and establish their rhythm. Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we coach clients both far and wide about how they can use a Lean programme and visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures Lean is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality visual management products to sustain the initiative and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies
Further reading on the Clarity Blog:
- Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
- Assessing Goals and Auditing Strategies
- Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station – Saving Lives With Lean Thinking
- A Visual Management Definition You Can Rely On
- Kaizen Events: Clarity Consulting’s Secret Weapon
- Why Your Workplace Communication Fails (…and How To Improve It)
- Why Lean Programmes Fail
- 6 Simple Solutions to Battle Workplace Stress
- How To Make Your Process Improvements Stick Around
- How To Create A Culture Of Improvement In Your Workplace
- 6 Challenges For Effective Business Leadership
- Our Favourite Lean Quotes…
- Beat Procrastination and get Motivated
- How to improve the morale in your workplace
- Internal Communication: Is It Standing In The Way Of Your Success?