The popular belief is that “Lean” is a tool that is only used to enhance a “manufacturing” process. Its suitability in food, health, service, government, sales, among other business enterprises has for long been perceived as inappropriate and misaligned, to say the least. However, it appears Lean Thinking can be quite successful in such enterprises if the recent results are anything to go by. The construction industry, which includes building and facility development as well as shipbuilding have for long steered clear of the Lean initiative. It is, however, emerging that it is about time we started exploring how Lean Thinking can be successfully applied in these business enterprises.
At Lean Learning Center we had the privilege of engaging with a luxury yacht manufacturing company. The company would complete 2-6 custom-made luxury yachts in a year for a small select global market. We were to help them in reducing costs through enhancing labor efficiencies of over 400 shipbuilding workers. We were to help them deliver the ships in time as well.
Cost of Waiting
The cost of waiting emerged as the number one enemy of productivity and efficiency inevery segment.
Lean Thinking found its importance during the assembly process design. Thousands of unique tasks that spanned over years with each depending on the successful completion of some prerequisite task were involved. Each of the tiny aspects and parts have to fit in together at an exact instant.
The parts, projects, and workpieces were often different at every start. The locations were often different as well. Many assembly processes were conducted in a plant located in another place. This meant that every part had to come together at the right time and at the right place. If this could not be achieved then work could not be completed on time.
How does Lean Thinking solve such issues?
Stay tuned for Part 2, the conclusion of this Lean Thinking journey.
About Lean Learning Center
The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees.