Part A – Lessons Learnt for A.F.
1. Discuss the development of the philosophy, principles and process of lean in the context of its contribution to manufacturing industries and applicability in the food processing industry (tip: make sure you contextualise this discussion to the intended reader – Pat, the MD of a food processing company).
2. Critically evaluate the implications and challenges that may arise when implementing lean in the company A.F.. Pay particular attention to A.F. need to manage and mitigate risk by creating more resilient, traceable and transparent supply chain operations (i.e. as a result of “leaning-down” and/or the increasing complexity of its supply chain in a global business environment).
3. You are expected to offer a set of recommendations to the Managing Director of A.F. as a result of your responses to questions 1 and 2 (tip: make sure these are justified, and are explicitly linked back to your discussion in the main body of your report).
Part B – Reflections within the context of an organisation familiar to you (e.g. your current or previous employer)
1. Critically reflect on the five principles to Lean as described in Womack and Jones (1996) article on ‘How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection' in the context of an organisation of your choice/familiar to you.
2. Critically evaluate the benefit(s) of implementing lean on business performance in the context of your response to question 1.
The Philosophy of Lean Production
1. Discuss the development of the philosophy, principles, and process of lean in the context of its contribution to manufacturing industries and applicability in the food processing industry:
Lean production or lean manufacturing had first been developed or invented by the Japanese in the mid 50’s. Nowadays, this has been popular in the countries worldwide. The philosophy at that time had served the needs of the manufacturing companies which later on became the part of most sectors like the public or the trade sectors. Despite the facts, the philosophy is still much unknown to many. Consequently, there has been a scarce of literature reviews on the philosophy. The major use of the philosophy is still to be identified (Yang et al. 2015).
The philosophy which was first used by the Toyota Production System is aimed at reducing every such thing that is of no values and instead, such things add burdens on the manufacturing companies. The philosophy thus means that the lean manufacturing process helps to reduce the wastages while not hampering the production also (Kurdve et al., 2014). It identifies what is not valuable to the system and helps to eliminate such things from the manufacturing process. In this way, the philosophy can be understood as a weapon that helps to reduce the wastages of the unwanted things, reducing the cost of production as well and improving the customer service standard (Kurdve et al., 2014).
As opined by Womack & Jones (1996), lean manufacturing can be divided into five principles like value stream mapping, flow optimization, value specification, pull production system and continuous or perfection improvement. These principles have been shed by lights to achieve certain objectives like what follows:
- Solving the customer’s issues full heartedly by ensuring that the entire service coordinates to each other and delivers the expected results
- Never wasting the customer’s time
- Successfully providing or delivering what customer needs in terms of pricing or the quality
- Meeting with the customer needs in context to what products they need, at what time and where
The authors Womack & Jones (1996) have probably held this as a future model for lessening the complexity of supply chain while focusing on just one but a very crucial part, the production or the manufacturing system. The concept has further been elaborated by the authors Kennedy, Plunkett & Haider (2013, 1579-1590) according to whom, lean production was first designed by the Japanese to support the just-in-time production in the automobile industry. The authors Womack & Jones (1996) have raised concerns on leading the lean production system in an enterprise, so that, all the components of the lean production are met by the concerned company.
Lean production does work with a purpose to reduce any kind of wastages or things that have no values to the production. The basic functionalities of the process are to identify the invaluable things and then eliminate such things from the production system. The process of implementation is indeed very challenging and requires an extensive contribution of the project leaders, the project teams and the labors (Martínez-Jurado, Moyano-Fuentes & Jerez-Gómez, 2014). Despite the challenge that it delivers in an account to the implementation process, the process is still very productive and can be approached to resolve the manufacturing issues.
The Principles of Lean Production
The lean process is dedicated to finding the wastages that are not just limited to the materials but this can also be related to a wider dimension like the underperforming employees or the managers. This is why the process is suitable for the different industries that also include the healthcare industry or the education centers. Interestingly, lean manufacturing nowadays is also used for the non-manufacturing industry (Lantz, Hansen and Antoni, 2015).2. Critically evaluate the implications and challenges that may arise when implementing lean in the company 'Absolute Foods'. Pay particular attention to A.F. need to manage and mitigate risk by creating more resilient, traceable and transparent supply chain operations:
‘Absolute Foods’ is a company which is involved in processing the locally produced beef and lamb to offer the different food products to customers. They are very transparent in regards to offer an excellent service to customers; however, they have little or probably no idea of how to manage the supply chain complexity. This is due to the Managing Director (MD) of ‘Absolute Foods’ as Pat Matthews has a very limited knowledge of the supply chain operation. The lean production process can help the MD to counter the complexity of the supply chain operation provided that if it has leaders who can lead the entire lean implementation process without any flaws.
The lean process according to Kennedy, Plunkett & Haider (2013, 1579-1590), has certain benefits which will be observable in the improving manufacturing process. However, the lean process as opined by Christopher & Peck (2004, 1-14), may also produce some complexity in the system and produce some turmoil as well if not lead appropriately. The ‘Absolute Foods’ will be able to get the several benefits after implementing the lean process provided that, if the complexities of the challenges are mitigated with extensive managerial solutions.
Lean helps to remove the waste which means that the process can effectively remove the invaluable terms of things from the system. Lean process in context to the ‘Absolute Foods’ may be helpful in eliminating the wastage that can be anything like the materials, the invaluable staffs or the invaluable suppliers. The managing director of the case study organization has a very little knowledge of the supply chain operation. The company, on the other hand, has aimed to deliver quality products to customers. However, this may be problematic as according to Iteng, Abdul Rahim & Ahmad (2017, 250-255), the lean process can improve the operational performance which will also affect the overall business performance.
The lean process will according to Iteng, Abdul Rahim & Ahmad (2017, 250-255) also produce the following benefits if it is implemented in the case study organization:
- Quality performance with a very fewer defects
- Fewer process and machine breakdowns
- Inventory will have less pressure
- Stock turnover will be increased
- Less space will be needed
- Efficiency will increase and also the output per man-hour will increase
- Delivery performance will also get better
- Customer satisfaction will be enhanced
- Supplier relations will also be improved
- Profits will be increased and so, the business
The Process of Lean Production
The process does not only offer the list of benefits but it also offers the list of challenges as well. The first and foremost challenge of the process is the risk which is involved in implementing the process. The process is not just a tool that would start delivering the results just after installing it into a device. It is rather a long process which requires a committed work from the entire workforce that also includes the project leaders and the project teams. The project might not prosper provided if the project leader is aware of the entire components of the lean process.
In the opinion of Christopher & Peck (2004, 1-14), a company like a case study organization may face certain challenges during the implementation of supply chain principles. Such challenges may be in the form of high-cost that will be required during the implementation process. The high cost of implementation is because it sometimes may also require dismantling a majority of the system. The case study organization may indeed face the challenge.
Additionally, the implementation may also face challenges as few of employees might lack the acceptance. The lean process indeed requires a full-hearted cooperation from the entire workforce which also includes the project leaders, project teams, and the labors. Nevertheless, a committed work for a longer period of time is less possible. Some employees might feel that they are not able to understand the concept. On the other hand, the older employees may prefer sticking with the old system. These reasons may certainly oppose the lean process implementation (Christopher & Peck, 2004).
The lean manufacturing process may also become the reasons for customer dissatisfaction. The lean manufacturing process is heavily dependent on suppliers to deliver the quality products in time. Nevertheless, it is very challenging to maintain a very good relationship with suppliers. Quality of materials and its timely delivery will always be a challenge for the case study organization (Christopher & Peck, 2004).
There can be an ample number of recommendations for a successful implementation of the lean process; however, the case study organizations may require considering the following set of recommendation in order to implement the lean without any flaws:
The first recommendation will for a proper coaching of staffs. The lean process is not just a tool. It is rather a long process that requires a patient and a committed contribution from staffs. The case study organization must have staffs who can patiently contribute to the implementation process. The case study organization may also take the help from setting up a pilot batch specially dedicated to the implementation of the lean process.
Implications of Lean Production
The second recommendation will be for a value stream mapping. This particular tool helps to identify both the value and the waste. It is indeed necessary that the case study organization identifies its valuable assets and also the wastages. This will help to observe if the values have been created from the value stream mapping.
Using trained professional to train the staffs will be the third recommendation for the company. The professional must have a very good understanding and in-depth knowledge of the entire components of the lean manufacturing process. Such trainers may be beneficial for staffs those who find it difficult to relate them to the lean manufacturing process.
Organizing around the value streams will be next recommendation. In this system, the head of the departments (HODs) will remain in the charge; however, the case study organization will also get the benefits from the real skilled leaders. The lean process implementation will then require following a matrix organization where values will be created from both the department heads and the skilled leaders.
Establishing an effective organizational communication will also be the key to successfully implement the lean process in the case study organization. The lean manufacturing process requires a continued contribution from employees for a longer period of time. Moreover, the case study organization must effectively communicate the lean process system with the staffs, the project leaders, and the project teams. A dedicated contribution from the entire workforce will indeed be attained if their contributions are known to them.
Leadership should focus on a long-term learning. This is indeed very important that leaders of the case study organization have patience in them as the lean process implementation will take a longer duration. This means that leaders should not become judgmental after observing the performance for a very short span of time. They should rather look for small but successive successes.
The case study organization should also look for recruiting the lean leaders. This is so because the implementation process requires a supportive approach from the leaders rather than just taking the ownership. The supportive approach will ensure a learning environment where employees will be able to nurture their lean skills.
Leaders must have the whole idea of the lean implementation. The leaders should know the ways how to involve the staffs and how to get their contributions. The leaders of the case study organization will need to have the transforming capability, so that, they could help themselves with the strategic decision at the different point in time.
Challenges of Implementing Lean Production
Creating a positive work environment will also be one of the key suggestions for the case study organization. Leaders must motivate its workforce in specific to those who struggle to correlate them with the lean process implementation.
Maintaining a good relationship with suppliers will also be the key to success of the lean process. The case study organization must maintain a good relationship with suppliers as to provide quality products or services to customers.1. Critically reflect on the five principles to Lean as described in Womack and Jones (1996) article on ‘How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection’ in the context of an organization of your choice/familiar to you:
According to Womack and Jones (1996), there are five principles to lean like value stream mapping, value specification, pull production system, flow optimization, and continuous or perfection improvement. The five principles have been sought to support to reduce the wastages and enhance the productivity of the manufacturing process. The process though can be understood by applying the principles presented by the authors Womack and Jones (1996) in the employer with whom the learner has worked before.
My previous employer is a manufacturing company that manufactures the cloths. The company has struggled to maintain a good relationship with the suppliers. Additionally, it is also worried from the material wastages. The managing director of the company had not been able to either resolve the complexity of supply chain operation or to maintain a good relationship with its suppliers.
In context to my previous employer, the principles of lean mentioned by the authors Womack and Jones (1996) can be extremely effective. This segment of study will analyze the benefits of five lean principles in sorting out the supply chain complexity of the learner’s previous organization.
Value stream mapping has had helped my organization to identify what are valuables and the wastages. Moreover, this is also one of the principles of lean process. Specialist lean leaders were hired in my organization. They did not only differentiate the value and the wastages but had also controlled the labors which are very critical for a successful implementation of the lean process (Tyagi et al., 2015).
Value specification was implemented in my organization and that has significantly impacted the operation. The impact was positive and the reasons for it are quite valid as well. Value specification helps to divide the purchasing of materials from suppliers in two ways namely the “contents” and the “action” (Göbel et al., 2015). In the contents section, the client has to decide what the materials they need to purchase are. In the action section, this will include everything from functions to processes and the performance (Göbel et al., 2015).
Pull production system had also benefitted my organization to reduce the wastages and control the cost of production. I had worked as a computer accountant with my previous employer. The firm had the challenge to control the wastages while also maintaining the highest standard of customer service. The Pull strategies have had helped to implement the just-in-time delivery method which enabled responding to customer's demands in the last seconds (Roh, Hong & Min, 2014). My firm was then able to identify the customer needs and accordingly, it was able to process the requirement in real time. I had observed that the wastages were successfully reduced and hence, the productivity.
Flow optimization is another key factor that has helped my organization to reduce its supply chain complexity. Supply chain operation has now become a growing concern for organizations across the globe. Very few organizations have been able to resolve the complexity of operation. Flow optimization is one tool which can effectively help to enhance the supply chain operation. This includes redesigning of the supply chain operation, optimizing the materials flow by using the different technologies and optimizing the process as well (Yue, You & Snyder, 2014).
Perfection or continuous improvement was the other strategy that has benefitted my organization. My organization was able to manage the supply chain operation by following the perfection improvement. This is so because “perfection improvement” includes all the processes like the value stream mapping, identifying the non-value items and implementing the agreed improvements that are needed to be done on a regular basis in order to attain the maximum benefits (Martínez-Jurado & Moyano-Fuentes, 2014).
The implementation of the lean process has produced ample of benefits to my previous employer; however, the execution includes a long list of challenges which are difficult to be maintained. My organization had the success which itself can be because of many reasons like it was a small-size business. The complexity will increase with the size of the organization. Despite the challenges that the principles proposed by Womack and Jones (1996) will produce on being implemented in a process, these are still very productive ways if handled appropriately.
The principles will help to reduce the wastages with the help of pull production system provided that if it is managed properly. The strategy enables to focus on a last-second delivery which means that products will be delivered once the order has been generated (Verdouw et al., 2016). This is according to Stadtler (2015), is a major problem as many companies fail to reduce the wastages. Therefore, such companies have to carry the burden of over expenditure.
In addition to the above-stated benefits, the principles as identified by the authors Womack and Jones (1996) will also help in reducing the complexity of supply chain operation. This can be possible if the continuous improvement process is regularly being managed. The management will include taking care of all the supply chain related operation that includes but are not limited to like the redesigning of supply chain operation and the flow optimization.
If the principles proposed by the authors Womack and Jones (1996) are being followed in organizational practices, this will simply help to achieve some very significant benefits. Those benefits include but are not limited to like identifying the invaluable items, value stream mapping, value specification and others. Identifying the invaluable items is very necessary to reduce the wastages. The invaluable includes many but is not limited to like the materials, invaluable staffs & the management and the invaluable equipment.
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