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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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How then do we define lean manufacturing?

Lean is the alignment of all activities in an organization towards the customer.

Lean over time will have an impact on everybody in the organiza­tion.

Fundamentally lean manufacturing is about the elimination of waste or the elimination, wherever possible, of any activity that does not add value to the product. We define added value as performed activities that customers are prepared to pay for. Lean works by increasing the amount of value-adding activity as a percentage of total activity in the overall process.

Prior to the introduction of the Ford Production System, our manu­facturing system attempted to produce the number of scheduled units each day at the lowest plant cost with the highest quality. The Ford Production System operating philosophy is to build a customer-driven sequence in a predictable manner at the lowest total cost and time with the highest quality.

The Ford Production System therefore is a lean manufacturing sys­tem geared to the continuous detection and elimination of waste through a set of clearly defined and customer-driven processes incorporating the following key techniques, tools, and methods.

First time quality, which depends significantly on the use of an im­mediate, structured, and practical problem-solving process, a Just-in-Time production/logistics system that produces and delivers only what is needed, when it is needed, in the required quantity and to the desired quality. It relies on capable machines, equipment, and processes.

Fundamentally the Ford Production System relies on dedicated and empowered people who are committed to work in teams with a high level of discipline and respect for each other. Such an approach essen­tially requires managers who lead by planning, training, coaching, au­diting, and rewarding through hands-on-experience and by walking the talk. In other word management by walking around on the shop floor and leading by example.

In lean organizations, the administrative activities must be clearly committed to continuously provide best-practice services to the value-adding processes and the people involved. Under the Ford Production System, the organization must build upon its current understanding and commitment to the continuous improvement process.

We also intend to nurture our supplier and carrier relationships such that where they have not already done so these partners to our business will also adopt this consumer/customer-driven ethos. Unless our sup­pliers are similarly dedicated to lean principles and committed to con­tinuous improvement activities throughout the total value stream, our own ability to become lean will be impaired.

In addition, we have to become an organization that is process ori­ented instead of functionally separated. Responsibility and authority will need to be delegated as close as possible to the value-adding processes.

Importantly we will also need to deploy a performance measure­ment and controlling system that is process-driven rather than result-driven. It must incorporate tools to support the self-controlling process appropriate to each level of the organization


Ford also recognized that change does not happen automatically. It needs to be managed. It needs to be managed because a business trans­formation consists of two aspects. The first is the organizational aspect and the second is the ownership aspect. The organizational aspect de­fines the desired state in strategic, objective terms. It states direction through a solid business case. The second aspect describes the owner­ship profile of the transformation. The ownership profile states the how the change will be integrated into the way the individuals will accept and integrate the change in the way they do work. Both must reach the desired state at the same time.

In order to look at Ford's change effort we will use the two interre­lated change models that are in use at Ford: the LaMarsh Model and Noel Tichy's Teachable Points of View. The LaMarsh Managed Change Model is a disciplined methodology of change. Tichy's Teachable Points of View is a powerful method to engage the management cascade in leading the change. Together both provide the sponsorship and leader­ship needed to successfully implement a sustainable change.

The Managed Change Model

This model is made up of five steps with four sets of three aspects up to the planning step, the "four-threes" of managed change. I'll use this model to demonstrate some of the change issues facing the team and as a template or filter for the development of a team-building strategy that will help resolve those issues.

•    Identify the change.

-      Analyze the current state

-      Define the desired state

-      Assess the delta state

•    Prepare to change.

-      Key roles: sponsors, change agents, and targets

-      Critical variables: culture, history, and resistance

•    Plan the change.

-      The communications system

-      The learning system

-      The rewards and reinforcement system


      Implement the change.

      Monitor the change.

To Be Continued


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