Lean Manufacturing Process: How to Implement Change

Lean Manufacturing Process: How to Implement Change

Bright AM

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When change happens in the manufacturing industry, it’s a slow, painful process. With the razor-thin margins, manufacturing operations can no longer afford to think about change as a slow-moving ship. Applying the principles of a Lean manufacturing process to change-making will unlock the potential for growth and scale.

Change in the Lean manufacturing world relies on a few principles that help facilitate efficiency and prevent unintended consequences during the process. Here’s how to utilize Lean principles to make change a positive part of growth.

Lean Manufacturing Process: Best Practices

Going Lean whittles down distractions and helps an organization have focused production based on Lean best practices. There are three basic principles:

  • Provide value to the customer.
  • Eliminate waste.
  • Commit to continuous improvement.

Using these principles as guides will help clear a path to success in implementing long-lasting, profound change. Each action below will impact company operations, helping to usher in a new era of productive and successful operations.

Establish the right principles

Change management is often laser-focused on the logical aspect of change without identifying the underlying reasons that many people resist change. Emotional attachment to current processes, love of chaos, fear of the unknown—there are many obstacles to change management.

One example of Lean change management from a leader in the method is Toyota. It focuses on daily behavior and small wins, tapping into employees’ emotional side and establishing the proposed change as a company principle. This leads to higher success with change overall.

Your company may decide to use a universal communication hub to check in regularly and establish a transparent chain of responsibility for continuous improvement. Instead of departments working in silos, each department understands how the others connect and contribute to overall operations.

When everyone in the organization has a laser focus on delivering value to the customer, identifying waste and shifting to continuous improvement is a no-brainer. Before anything in Lean starts, re-establish this fundamental company principle.

Establish team and employee buy-in

A partner in establishing basic company principles is getting employee buy-in. This sets up the change principle from the beginning. You may find individual resistance to change, but looking for proper change agents can help continue the shift.

A change agent is an employee, manager, or department representative deeply committed to—and crucially, excited about—the change. The agent illustrates the benefits of change and makes those benefits salient to every individual involved.

Applying the Lean best practice of continuous improvement right from the beginning is an ideal way to start. Instead of creating a giant upheaval, start small and evaluate at each stage. Employees will become deeply involved, evaluating and pivoting to improve the process.

Establish performance tracking for long-term improvement

The focus of change is continual improvement. Each iteration stage eliminates waste and drives value for the customer. Tracking can provide valuable data designed to improve operations and deliver that value.

Ultimately, there is no final goal in this process; there is only continuous improvement. As processes evolve and change, employees and managers continually identify where there is waste, and the collaborative evaluation drives value for the customer. Performance tracking documents the process, provides historical reference, and ensures a chain of responsibility.

Facilitating Lean with the Right Tools

Software designed specifically for Lean best practices helps facilitate the shift to Lean and ensures that documentation happens for quality assurance. There are three key software components that you’ll need to run alongside your change management principles.

  • A global communications hub is critical for change-making. Fragmented data does not deliver insight or value. Global communications establish a single source of truth, enabling companies to focus on value and pivot if necessary.
  • Customizable dashboards can help identify waste streams. Manufacturing may have similar underlying principles, but your organization has unique metrics. Customizing your dashboards to reach these metrics helps identify waste streams, helping you drive improvement.
  • Track changes in specifications with automated systems. Automation takes pressure off, reduces human error, and ensures a process focused on value without bloat.

Software support in these critical areas ensures that change becomes a vital part of operations, focusing on improvement and driving value. With a unified data source available to all departments, areas where waste is happening or where pivots are necessary become apparent.

Making Changes to and within Lean Operations

The Lean manufacturing process requires a substantial amount of trust in leadership, but its principles allow manufacturers to go from giant, cumbersome ships to agile organizations. When disruption hits or the market changes, those with established change procedures will be able to pivot to meet the market’s demands and continue to deliver the value that customers expect.

With the right tools and planning that goes beyond the logical aspect of change, production and manufacturing can move to Lean operations. Establish trust and provide a feedback loop with an all-inclusive manufacturing tool like Bluestreak | Bright AM, so change can become the best thing to happen to an organization.

When your quality control process needs improvement, you’re wasting time and money. You are also putting future business at risk, and we know how small of an industry this can be. Dissatisfied customers tend to spread the word to their colleagues, which can hurt future sales. Recognize the warning signs and take action today by contacting Bluestreak | Bright AM.

If your service includes Additive Manufacturing, we provide specific solutions in our Bluestreak | Bright AM software. To request an Additive Manufacturing software demo, click here!