Overcoming obstacles that arise during lean implementation

Overcoming obstacles that arise during lean implementation

Implementing lean operations has become one of the most popular ways to boost efficiency and productivity in warehouse and manufacturing facilities in the last year.

The system has made a huge impact on the supply chain and manufacturing capabilities at large companies, such as Harley Davidson, however many of these firms say there are several hurdles to jump to make lean work. 

Finding the best way to implement the strategy may be a good idea for any firm, according to Supply Chain Digest. A recent study, conducted by Compdata, found that 71.6 percent of the 1,100 respondents had begun to use lean principles in their operations. As more firms begin to adopt the strategy, it will be crucial for them to determine the best way to go about the change. 

Other surveys have found that when the systems were implemented properly, companies saw great success. However, one study found that only about 2 percent of companies that undertake the initiative to go lean actually make it to the point where they see financial benefits. iSixSigma puts the failure rates for groups switching to lean operations at about 50 to 95 percent. 

The media outlet stated that all of this is subject to the definitions of success and failure, however many agree that implementing lean may be harder than most perceive. Still, this doesn’t mean they should turn away from the effort – the benefits of lean have been documented time and again. Instead, they should go into the introduction phase knowing the most common reasons for implementation failure. 

One of the most widespread problems companies face when implementing lean is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the process is. Many companies see it as simply a way to lower costs, not an improvement that will lead to better customer service and less waste. Such a definition of lean may lead to a partial implementation, in which some lean tools are used, but its central philosophies are not adopted. 

According to a separate Supply Chain Digest article, Mike Loughrin, CEO of Transformance Advisors, said that there are several factors that could make one company’s initiative to go lean more successful than another’s, including the measurements of success, the training that is given and the company culture.


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