Monday, February 17, 2014

Four Basic Principles of Lean Production

I used to do a part time job as a waiter and kitchen hand in a small restaurant in Adelaide. I experienced how hard it was for the manager and staff to have smooth movements, from the moment that orders were taken, to when the foods were cooked and delivered to the tables or take-away customers.

When having spare time, I quite often asked myself a question: “If I was the manager, what should I do to get the movements in the dining room and the kitchen really smooth?”

A couple of ideas came to my mind sometimes. One was, for example, to equip the waiters with electronic touchable pads to take orders. These pads would be wirelessly connected with a bigger pad of the master chef in the kitchen. This would reduce time and increase preciseness. I saw a lot of restaurant in bigger cities such as Melbourne and Sydney doing this.

However, those ideas just flared up suddenly, and I didn’t have a chance to think about a bigger and overall picture of the production of the restaurant. Of course, I had no idea about “lean production” until I joined this SCM class.

Reading the cases on Toyota, Starbucks and Dell has brightened me up a lot with the philosophy and practice of lean production. These companies were big and their practices were very complicated. Hence, I wanted to investigate what the core, basic principles of lean manufacturing were.

I found on the Internet a short video describing the four principles of lean production and wanted to share with you. It was short but gave a basic overview of this subject.

You can watch it here, if you like:

The four principles mentioned were:

1.      Pull:

Instead of making products as much as possible, let customers’ demand pull the production. This avoids overproduction, inventory and working capital.

2.     One piece flow:

Focus on one single piece at a time. This minimize working progress, process interruption, and waiting time.

3.      “Takt” (i.e. “cycle time” or “time meter”):

Everyone in the production chain plays the same beat. Time for each process is fixed. This enables us to have work balance, continuous work flows.

4.      Zero defects:

Mistakes from previous step must be fixed before moving on.

Hope you will find the video interesting.


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