Eliminate Waste Like An Engineering Using Lean

Industrial engineers use Lean all the time to systematically eliminate waste from a process. Lean is used by a lot of different engineering disciplines, but it is usually a core piece of the industrial engineering curriculum. It can be used with Six Sigma concepts, but we are just going to focus on Lean for now.

When using Lean to evaluate a process, the focus always remains on the customer value or what the end user sees as being valuable about the process. The focus of Lean is to eliminate all waste that does not help to achieve this customer value; basically “streamlining” the process.

Lean concepts took hold in the manufacturing business but are constantly being revamped and reused in new industries such as retail, food service, and software development.

There is a lot to learning Lean, but we are going to boil it down to 5 main steps. They may sound easy, but it can be difficult to appropriate complete each step of this process as all processes are different.

Step 1: Understand the customer value. It is critical to understand what the customer wants and what they perceive to be valuable at the end of the process.

Step 2: Map out all the steps to achieve the final product. List them or draw them in a diagram. This should include any step that is considered “wasteful”.

Step 3: Work to come up with solutions to eliminate waste within the process. Check out this post on muda to learn about the different types of waste.

Step 4: As the process changes, focus on pulling value from the upstream process step instead of pushing a product down the line.

Step 5: Continue looking in the process for ways to eliminate waste and to pull value from a previous step.

In our personal opinion, the hardest part of this process is creating a true pull system. It makes sense in manufacturing because you only want to create what you need (supply/demand) but when applying these ideas to every day processes, this can be difficult.

We hope you liked learning a little about the Lean methodology. It is a great tool to make a process more efficient.

Be sure to check out our other posts related to Lean tools to help you understand how they can be applied in your every day life!

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