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Concepts and Benefits


Definition and general concepts
Inspired from the Japanese management methods, and more specifically, the Toyota Production System, the LEAN approach is intended to have the enterprise think first and foremost about maximizing the value that its products and services can bring to the client.

The products and services that are offered must therefore answer to the requirements of the client, be provided at a lower cost, with a higher level of quality and in the shortest delay possible.

And to reach this objective, the enterprise must be the most flexible and efficient possible in its operations. This is, indeed, the ultimate goal of the LEAN approach, a systematic approach consisting in...
  • Modelling the enterprise as value streams, eliminating any barrier between departments (the silo effect);
  • Identifying and eliminating the waste and inefficiencies in the operations, to maximize the added value;
  • Ensuring a continuous flow in the production of products, services and the related information;
    • Produce on demand, in a Just-in-time mode;
    • Standardize and level the work loads;
    • Reduce the lot sizes, and strive for an ideal one-piece flow;
    • Reduce inventories, and strive for an ideal zero inventory and zero WIP (Work-In-Process);
  • Make the operations visible, to quickly react and bring the proper corrective actions as may be required by a given situation;
  • And lastly, transforming the business culture and aiming at continuous improvement, so that optimizing the value provided to the client remains at the heart of each and everyone's concerns.

Specific tools
A certain number of tools have been developed to eliminate waste and inefficiencies and reduce delays (such as cellular layouts, pull systems, kanbans, 5S and simple visual controls).

For the entreprise as a whole
At the origin of LEAN, the approach has mainly been applied to Manufacturing (Lean Manufacturing). But nowadays, this approach is being diffused to the enterprise as a whole (Lean Enterprise). We then talk, amongst other things, of Lean Office, and, of course, of Lean Engineering and Lean Development.

Benefits of the Lean approach
There are several benefits to the LEAN approach. Amongst other things, we can identify here some tangible and significant benefits:
  • reduction in lead time for the delivery of products and services;
  • increase in productivity;
  • reduction of inventory levels and of and Work-In-Process (of material or intellectual nature, such as information);
  • improvement of quality (with a reduction of errors, and of the change orders that often result from these errors);
  • increased simplicity of the processes (simplified to maximize the added value);
  • lightened document management (with a reduction of paperwork and related procedures);
  • and of course, reduced consumption of resources used in production (raw material, energy, etc.).

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