In our conversations with precast concrete manufacturers lately, we have heard of a lot of interest in lean manufacturing. Some of our customers, such as Jensen Precast and Smith Midland, have engaged in the practice for some time with good success. The NPCA wrote about their experiences in a November 2017 blog post. Many others are starting to think hard about becoming lean because the gains in productivity and customer value are long known and well proven. We engage in lean practices at Idencia so we thought we would share the basics for those interested in learning about lean principles.
In fact, we identified 17 Ways Lean Manufacturing Increases Profits & Wins Bids for concrete manufacturers in a web report we just released. We'll provide a primer here and invite you to read our full report for more details.
Lean manufacturing is a practice, not a system. It is often defined as the practice of continually improving work flow to reduce waste and focus activities on those that produce customer value. It is a mindset first and foremost.
A lean practice requires that everything… everything… is considered from the customer’s perspective. By “the customer” we don’t mean the next party up the supply chain. We mean the party that is ultimately paying for the project.
So, answers to the following questions need to be included in considering the delivery of value:
- How do we deliver value demanded by the customer?
- How do we deliver the product in sync with the customer’s process flow?
- How do we deliver services that the customer wants… or might want?
- How do we continuously exceed the customers quality standards?
- How do we deliver the product at the lowest possible cost?
Note that the answers to these questions are dynamic, not static. That is because these all describe a value stream; in lean parlance the continual flow of goods and services that contribute value to the customer. They also make clear that the value stream should always be triggered and influenced by customer pull, delivery of the product/service at the exact time the customer wants it. Finally, all of this should be designed to happen with minimal waste, any activity that does not directly contribute to customer value.
Delivery of the product/service in this way produces the highest customer value at the lowest possible cost.
One of the great things about lean manufacturing is that the practice calls for innovation, not necessarily additional investment. This is why companies that engage in lean practices are generally the most innovative, and therefore become market leaders.
Our purpose at Idencia is to offer precast RFID tracking solutions that improve productivity throughout the value chain. Our subscription offering applies to products from the time of manufacture through end-of-life. As a cloud-hosted product tracking system that is seamless between manufacturers, contractors and asset managers, Idencia adds information value to all, eliminates redundancy and saves time. If you would like to learn more, click below.