Saturday, September 6, 2014
Lean Manufacturing and Gold
Though at first glance it seems that the Lean techniques may only be applicable to the manufacturing industry, we learned through the Seattle Children’s Hospital and Starbucks examples that it can be applied to a variety of industries.
Another example of an industry that is adopting the lean techniques is mining. The Barrick Gold mine has been able to successfully adopt lean. They aim, as many other companies do, to eliminate waste and increase efficiency. Sounds like a no-brainer right? What company doesn’t want to cut out waste and become more efficient? One of the reasons that Barrick Gold has been able to successfully use lean is because of the similarities between the auto industry and the mining industry. They both share views on operational efficiency, safety, and their supply chains are critical.
Barrick looks for ways to find a standard method of improving. This is very similar to one of the pillars of Toyota’s success. It requires a very rigid structure of operational process, but still allows for the flexibility of improvements. The Toyota case even mentions that the improvement process would not be possible without the rigid structure.
Similar to Toyota, Barrick trains “Business Improvement Coaches” to promote leadership and improvement. To continue the relationships that are built from BIs Barrick has implemented a system of promoting from within. The continuous improvement process has become ingrained in the Barrick culture.
As the mining industry continues to change and costs rise, the lean processes can help Barrick continuously improve with whatever changes effect the industry. This makes me wonder what other industries can make use of lean techniques, and can companies even without significant supply chains make use of lean to find ways to formalize the improvement process?