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Inventory Management as Related to Lean Supply Chains

Efficient inventory management for lean operations


Inventory Management as Related to Lean Supply Chains

Efforts to manage inventory involve continual struggles to balance the amount of inventory needed to satisfy customer demand with levels of inventory that minimize cost, including those costs associated with damage or loss.  A company can quickly go under if it fails to either meet demand or has an excessive amount of products that cannot be sold.  While excess inventory has a direct negative impact on bottom-line results, it also serves to cover or hide operating deficiencies and can seriously delay the recognition of flaws in work-in-process or finished goods.  This week, you will explore the concepts and activities that support lean operations and align them accurately with efforts to manage the delicate balance of inventory.

At its core, lean supply management is aimed to streamline processes while reducing waste and non-value-added steps. Waste is not only defined as material or product that must be discarded. The idea of reducing waste is more complex in nature. Waste is also defined lost/excess time, excess cost, and/or excess inventory.  Cost and inventory are generally easy to visualize. If you produce too much or the costs of good increase, problems arise. Time is a difficult commodity to predict for many companies, but it is one currency that is very restricted. A company that can reduce the time it takes to create a product might its daily production increase from 100 to 125 units a day. Over time, this adds up to a significant reduction in labor costs, increased product availability, and the ability to best meet demand.

Be sure to review this week's resources carefully.  You are expected to apply the information from these resources when you prepare your assignments.

Your primary care physician operates a sound business practice that, at times, seems to suffer from several forms of waste.  In your role as a dedicated patient engaged in the study of operations management, you are in a unique position to offer an analysis of your doctor’s business operation to recommend improvements.

Consider the common interpretation of service processes in use at many organizations, which is used to identify four variants of a service process:

The process that is formally defined and recorded in a business document.
The process that everyone generally believes exists.
The process as it actually exists.
The process that should exist to deliver what the customer really wants.

Using your arrival at the doctor’s office as a starting point in the process, create a document that focuses on the process of visiting your doctor for a flu shot. Be sure your document incorporates the following:

Introduction – describe what you intend to do and how you will approach the task.
A simple flowchart that maps the sequence of operations for variant #1 and/or #2 above.  While you may need to make certain assumptions in your description of variants #1 and #2, your process map should include, at a minimum, all components of the process that are visible to the patient. You may choose to combine your analysis of the first two variants due to lack of information on either one.

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