There are plenty of places where we can find definitions of what is Lean Manufacturing as well as the flashy Japanese words associated with this philosophy, such as “Jidoka“, “Heijunka“, “Andon“… But what is Lean really? Lean, in simple terms, means trying to be capable of offering the client that for which they are willing to pay.
The only Japanese word we want to mention at IKOR is “Gemba (现场)”. Lots of people translate it as the production workshop, but this is incorrect, the Gemba is the place where value is added, and this happens in many other places.
Perhaps you have attended interminable meetings in which you stare at the clock wishing the minutes would pass more quickly. Is that room a place where you can contribute or, on the contrary, do you just wish it would all end so you can start work? This is without doubt a Lean mentality, and all of us can apply it without the need for advanced knowledge.
You don’t believe me, do you? Perhaps you think that Lean is an innovative technique, the Rosetta Stone which will lead your company to excellence based on complicated management methods and daily Kaizen. This style of management has been in use for years and certainly can’t be considered innovative, but it works, and that’s because it is based on the concept of simplicity. It could almost be called common sense. As James P. Womack said, this philosophy allows us to obtain “more and more with less and less”.
There are many interpretations and methods to apply the Lean philosophy, but we at IKOR always try to find the most efficient and simple solution for our clients’ needs. When Toyota did not yet manufacture cars and was part of the textile industry, almost 100 years ago, they thought up a system of weights which hung from the looms in such a way that if any thread broke, the weight fell and activated a switch which stopped the machine and prevented waste. Isn’t that brilliantly simple?