6 tips on how to apply lean manufacturing in 2023
Fishbowl’s Director of Customer Experience, Skyler Johnston, shows us how manufacturing companies can implement specific tactics to become more lean.
With ever-changing new technologies and trends within the manufacturing industry, there has never been a greater emphasis on enhanced productivity and the need to eliminate unnecessary waste. Lean manufacturing is an excellent shift for companies that want to improve efficiency and increase productivity. This method can free up employees and resources for innovation, quality control, and more time working on strategic work.
I got the chance to speak with Fishbowl's Director of Customer Experience, Skyler Johnston, on how companies can tackle some of the challenges of implementing lean manufacturing within their companies with six tips he has become an expert on.
Skyler's primary goal as Director of Customer Experience is to improve the journey from start to finish. From implementation to satisfaction and retention, his goal is customer obsession. Before this role, Skyler was a Director of Customer Onboarding, which has made him a bit of a Fishbowl expert on the following six tips.
What Skyler thinks of lean manufacturing today
Lean manufacturing, at its core, means trimming down any unnecessary fat (minimizing waste within a manufacturing operation). Anything that doesn't add value that the customers are willing to pay for can be considered waste. The mission behind lean manufacturing should be getting down to the most important things in the manufacturing process for each company.
Skyler's six tips on how to apply lean manufacturing
- Timely purchases
- Instructing and training of employees
- The management of customer relationships
- Location Layout
Cost is a key component within lean manufacturing. Lower costs mean you have a higher margin, giving more flexibility for adaptation. Think about if you are buying from overseas. There is usually quite a lead time. Purchasing from the right vendor at the right time will make all the difference.
Often, you see that buying from a vendor and getting it quickly could be a higher cost than a longer lead time. Managing the timeline is essential to getting the product at the right time, so you can handle the manufacturing process, which allows lean capabilities.
There's no predicting the future, but companies must be willing to adapt to successfully implement lean manufacturing. You must be willing to adjust the workflow process, because what works today may not work tomorrow. Adaptation is a much-needed skill to stay relevant and ahead of your competition.
On the other hand, you must be cautious with adaptation, because you don't want to move too quickly into something that hasn't been proven yet.
The best companies move with balance. Adapting can be costly and time-consuming.
For example, if you're in a manufacturing environment, and there's a piece of equipment that helps you bend metal more efficiently, buying that machine can save a lot of time. It adapts and allows you to create more time somewhere else. But, if you try to adapt too quickly and buy too many of those machines, you don't have the demand, or customers now want something different that doesn't require that machine. That machine then becomes irrelevant and costly.
Adaptation is meant to align your direction and improves your processes to become more lean, but it's important to know when something is working and when it's not. Regardless of what the industry says is right. Being able to adjust as you see fit is key.
Instructing and training of employees
Employees who buy into this new change will set the tone for the entire company. Leaders can aid in this process by creating a good vision of what they deliver to the customer and why.
When employees understand the bigger picture, it can give a better understanding and investment behind the change. They see the vision of what the product will ultimately do for the customer.
Leaders should be willing to teach their employees, listen to their ideas and knowledge as they may be closer to the customer, and be aware of what change could do internally and externally for all parties.
The management of customer relationships
When implementing change, who better to listen to than your customers? No matter the item or product you are selling, more time than not, your customer would like to have a say so, since they will be receiving the final product.
Your customers can provide value, direction, and data on how and when to implement the change. Remember that your customers do not have the final say, so take their opinions and suggestions with a business mindset. Ask yourself "How do I apply their recommendation in a way that would benefit my business and ensure customer satisfaction?”
Implementing change and bringing your customers into the loop at the right time will then only incentivize them to be more invested in your product and service and recommend it to other customers.
Part of being lean is making sure that you're being efficient. Your space is a resource, and the more product sitting around not being used is taking your company away from a lean initiative. Spending money on products that are not regularly rotating through your warehouse can significantly impact your work process.
Every manufacturing process deals with the flow of things moving in and out of a warehouse. Time is of the essence; whether it be humans or AI technology moving products from place to place within a warehouse, you want the time moving the product to be the most efficient.
How much product is stored, where the product is stored, and the time it takes to move out that product all fall into the flow of implementing lean manufacturing successfully.
There isn't a crystal ball that will help companies forecast the future, but we can plan.
Companies can prepare and plan for what the future will look like by analyzing historical data and making strong predictions. But, also understanding that they must adapt because the future is unknown.
Reviewing historical data and analytics can give manufacturing leaders the insight and the ability to analyze purchasing decisions, where to eliminate bottlenecks, and predicting possible geographic and seasonality implications which could impact how quickly and slowly products can be moved through the warehouse.
The future of manufacturing is evolving, and remaining aware of the changes and challenges will only set up leaders in the manufacturing industry for success.
Implementing lean manufacturing with Fishbowl
When done right, the tips listed above can be utilized within Fishbowl's product. We have analytics that allows companies to make predictions using historical data and how to move forward with the present.
If you want to learn more about Fishbowl, and discuss how all these tools can be put into practice, you can connect with our Account Executive team or Revenue team to get a quick Fishbowl demo.