Lean and Business Improvement Techniques
Several of the growers that we met during the SEEDA horticultural project were starting to make use of lean techniques.
Lean manufacturing is a methodology that aims to ensure that all activity in the company is organised around delivering value to the customer. It aligns processes and people around a continuously improving value chain and simplifies operations and eliminates waste by making processes visible.
The project-based approach helps improve performance to meet the just in time delivery requirements of the supermarkets by removing wasted time from operations. The approach is very visual – whether using Kan-Ban techniques or making the storage areas tidy and efficient.-or using highly visual outlines to make sure items go back where they should be.
One company had three projects running in different areas. One team were focusing on the ergonomics of packing.
Clear routes to move packaging from storage to the packing bay were laid down and policies put in place so that the day’s supply of packaging was all put together in one place at the start of the day as you see here.
Lean is highly visual, relying on charts, images and patterns to make it easy for people to be organised. Here’s a workshop manager with the week’s schedule planner.
Lean is all about marshalling the totality of the company’s resources around adding value to the customer – anything else is a waste. Achieving this in practice involves a lot of time engaging and aligning with the work force to instill the habits of high performance work practices.
Lean in a nutshell
One practical approach towards achieving Lean is the Business Improvement Techniques programme adopted at Humber-VHB. It’s a project based approach and typically involves a team leader and a team of around 6 undertaking a project as evidence for a NVQ Level 2 qualification (Level 3 for the team leader).
The programme identifies 7 wastes to be tackled
It also charmingly identifies 5 “S”s for improving workplace clutter.
Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise, Sustain.
A great lesson for us all.