The Difference between Lean Office and Lean Manufacturing

What is a Lean Office?
A Lean Office is a place where the best customer service is offered by eliminating all the possible waste during production. It is accomplished by creating a smooth flow of work in the lean office and creating a standardized way of accomplishing work. The lean office operates using the principles used in lean manufacturing.

Lean OfficeLean Office vs. Lean Manufacturing
The Lean Office and Lean Manufacturing have many similarities but there are certain differences that are needed to be pointed out in order to have a more effective lean office.

One of the main differences of the two is the waste it produces. Manufacturing wastes are easily quantifiable and are quite visible. This makes it easier to apply problem solving techniques to lessen the waste. Office wastes, on the other hand, are difficult to spot. Office work usually involves a lot of people making it harder to monitor. It is also hard to monitor the pending work on each work station. Because of these factors, it is more difficult to make solutions to office waste problems.

Lean ManufacturingAnother difference between the two is the culture. Culture can affect the manner by which the company works. The manufacturing culture is informal unlike the lean office culture. Having a formal working environment makes it easier to assign responsibility and define job roles.

Also, it is easier to carry out changes in the lean office than in manufacturing. Changes done in the office are often minimal. Further training could suffice to make these changes. Managing changes and monitoring them is easier in a lean office environment.

The Lean office and lean manufacturing share most of the principles in reducing the waste in the workplace. Both follows the lean principles that started in the manufacturing sector but found its way to the offices and administrations. Although they do share some principles, the differences should also be noted to make a more efficient and effective working environment.

Job Description for a Lean Manager

Lean manufacturing is making business more effective by getting personnel to work smarter. The process involves keeping workplace in order, ensuring quality product building, removing unnecessary inventory, simplifying and utilizing visualization. The main goal of lean innovation is to enhance employee productivity as well as boost worker contentment by decreasing the work load that staff has to do. At times businesses employ lean managers to run lean transformation.

Lean managerTrade production managers usually execute methods like lean management. Lean manager check everyday processes of a company. Then, he provides workers with consultation and guidance, executing principles of lean management. Lean manager then ensures that the workers follow this system and continue educating workers whenever necessary.

Time is divided for the office as well as production facility. These managers must take time to plan methods of implementing the principles of lean production and must spend a little time sharing ideas with other managers. Crucial time is spent in the business production facility where he oversees production processes and gives training as well. In this setting, these managers are exposed to same hazards the workers are exposed to, although these dangers can be avoided by good safety precautions.

Lean managementLean system is often utilized by manufacturing industry therefore many lean managers require previous experience in the industry. Companies which use lean management processes can also possibly use systems such as Demand Flow, Six Stigma, Visual Management and Just-in-Time. So, managers who possess previous experience are likely to get employed to implement these systems. Skills in communication and presentation are also significant when a lean manager is educating and mentoring workers.

According to Labor Statistics Bureau, the demand for industrial manufacturing managers is likely to decline. The decline is due to overall decline of manufacturing industry because of outsourcing as well as international competition. Nevertheless, the demand for production managers will not drop as much since managerial skills are hard to automate.

Implementing Lean warehousing solutions

Lean warehousing is related to improving the warehousing operations by controlling and optimizing the flow of material, implementing suitable order processing system, maintaining proper replenishment levels and maintaining efficient shipping standards. When Lean practitioners try to come out with an implementation strategy, they consider all the above mentioned factors and come out with a strategy that would help in eliminating waste and improving lean material flow. The lean expert would include the following steps as part of their implementation strategy

1. Evaluating the existing warehousing procedures
2. Designing the new value stream map
3. Operational Planning

Lean Warehousing

Evaluation of the existing warehousing procedures

This forms the first phase of the implementation strategy, where the lean expert would evaluate the different concepts related to warehousing including material handling and space utilization. They would evaluate the existing system using a tool called value stream map. The value stream map is a graphical representation of the different processing activities that happens in a production environment and the status of the material that goes through this process flow.

Designing new value stream map

With the existing value stream map, lean experts would be able to identify the areas in the production process that needs to be streamlined to make the warehousing operations much more effective and leaner. The required corrections have to be made in the value stream map to improve the material flow and also help in effectively utilizing the space available in the warehouse. The new stream map is then base lined and the operational planning activity would start based on the new value stream map

Operational planning

In the operation planning phase, lean experts would come out with several projects to achieve the objectives in reducing the order processing time and lead time significantly. Different teams would be formed to work on individual projects and a project co-coordinator would be identified to co-ordinate the results of the different projects.

Lean Operations

Thus Lean warehousing plays an important role in improving the space utilization and improving the material flow in a production environment.

Different processes involved in creating a Lean Office

The concept of Lean office has been there for the last ten years and has been gaining gradual ground in the last five years. The main objective for creating a Lean office is to make optimum utilization of the available resources without wasting any of these precious resources. This is based on the Japanese productivity principle of Kaizen. Some people are of the assumption that Lean office is related to accomplishing things faster, which is not the case.

continuous process improvementDifferent process areas related to Lean office

1. Getting the buy in from different levels of people in the organization.

2. Making use of process mapping

3. Gathering data from the current process map

4. Designing a future state map

5. Focusing on continuous process improvement

Getting the buy in

This is the first process that happens as part of the Lean office creation. During this process, the top management and the actual work force need to be fully convinced about the consequences of implementing a Lean Office program. They have to be totally convinced in order to provide financial and whole hearted support for the program.

Process mapping

Process maps can be created to arrive at the existing information flow and the paper flow across the different divisions of the office.

Gathering data from the current process map

In this process, the group would be collecting data related to time wastage and wastage created while performing the actual work

Lean OfficeDesigning a future state map

In this process, group would be creating a future state map based on what the company should look like in the immediate future. The state map should include new waste free processes and the related information flows.

Focusing on Continuous process improvement

Once the execution of the plan put forward ion the future state maps, managements and the workforce should focus on continuous process improvement to fine tune the processes.

Lean Office Tools

This is also known as lean manufacturing tools. Lean tools are the processes and plans which are used to spot problems in the production process, and solve those problems in a manner that enhances the effectiveness of the business. A variety of tools are utilized to assess situations and respond in a way that helps to reduce waste and clearing the way to earn huge profits. All sizes of businesses can adjust to these fundamental tools in every situation, whether their concentration is on the line of production or the manner in which tasks are performed in an office environment.

Generally, lean manufacturing ensures that there is no misuse of resources since high quality products are generated to be sold to consumers. Every action which involves usage of resources in a manner that does not aid to fulfill this crucial goal is termed wasteful, and should be eliminated from this operation. From this viewpoint, lean tools aid to constantly assess what is happening in the company and ensure that nothing is wasted.

LeanMany kinds of lean tools aid to identify several reasons for defects in a product, and eliminate the process of these reasons as a method to provide a better final product to consumers. A good example is the approach referred to as Six Sigma, where there is combine usage of statistical information and quality control measures which relate to delivery of product, employee safety, raw materials quality as well as cycle time.

Lean Office ToolsThere is extremely wide range of lean tools. This allows the usage of several combinations of strategies so as to get the desired result. In a few cases, the tools might focus on systematizing flow of production in order to better the benefits. It also helps to identify the point where the flow is working properly and where improvements are required possibly by reorganizing the position of production machinery.

Lean Warehousing: The Art of Maximizing Storage Space and Profits

Henry Ford is championed as one of the pioneers in developing the lean warehousing philosophy. Eiji Toyoda and Shoichiro Honda are usually mentioned in the same breath for their contribution towards making lean warehousing part of their winning strategy in creating successful auto businesses geared towards reducing wastage of time, storage space and raw materials. Institutions such as the Material Handling Institute of America are today pushing for handling of raw materials and processed goods using the latest warehousing equipment and technology. This is because lean storage is significant in progressing the global economy in a manner that ensures steady supply of goods to the growing population in addition mitigating negative environmental effects emanating from industrial practices. Companies such as Industrial Scientific Corp. have been instrumental in demonstrating environmental and economic benefits that lean warehousing philosophy can bring about.

Lean Warehousing

As a company dealing in gas detection equipment and systems, an increase in production once threatened its production as its warehousing space ran out quickly. As a result, the company was faced with the possibility of missing the set deadlines and this could have culminated to loss of clients. ISC had the costly option of building a new storage facility or hiring one. However, it had the third option that involved lean management of storage space. ISC adapted high-bay storage techniques, expanded its mobile cart movements and automated its warehouse inventory data management systems. As a result, the company reduced 300 sq. feet initially occupied by carts to 67 sq. feet, leaving over 200sq. feet of free storage space hence saving the cost of constructing a new warehousing facility, pushing up its efficiency and profits.

warehouse management

As a manufacturer or a warehouse operator you can do things the old fashioned way and throw away your innovation and financial grip or opt for the lean way and sail through modern industrial challenges modernity presents.

Tools For Lean Administration and Their Benefits

Lean administration is about creating value in the stream of administration. It contains a list of several tools that help in working with lean in a company’s administration.

Lean system is a proper system that has a number of activities aligned in such a way to create and provide value to the end user or end customer. Therefore, in the light of this definition, lean administration is about creating value in all the activities that are considered to be a part of the administrative work. The tools of lean administration help in not only identifying the value stream but also help in reducing or eliminating the wastes thus leading to complete utilization of all the resources in the value stream.

Lean 5sImportant lean tools that help in lean administration are:

- One-piece flow: It is the sequence of activities as one unit at a time therefore focusing on each activity of the process not the process as a whole.
- Poka Yoke: It is error-proofing through automation for every activity.
- Visual management: It is the using of visual displays that provide all the information about every activity and controlling it visually as well to ensure all activities are carried out as required.
- 5S method: Taking care of the workplace by following; Sort, straighten, shine, standard and sustain.
- Kaizen: Implementing small changes to improve productivity and performance.

Administrative systems that are not well managed will have stocks and piles of unattended files, missing standard of work and high waiting time. This dissatisfies the customers and therefore doesn’t create any value to customers. No matter what is the kind of administrative flow, these tools can be easily applied to make all the activities aligned and efficient.

Lean AdministrationBy using these tools, one can get the following benefits:

- Simpler and visible flow
- Smaller lead time
- Improved customer services
- Reduced waste
- Less rework
- Committed employees