In today’s competitive, consumer-driven landscape, companies have to find ways to streamline operations and deliver products even more quickly. The name of the game is speed and efficiency.
In order to meet rising customer expectations, however, companies must do more than keep current with the status quo – they must perform at peak levels of efficiency and drive continuous process improvements across the organization.
Lean manufacturing drives ongoing improvements in cost, quality, service, and delivery, and creates a culture of employee empowerment and waste minimization. It isn’t a new concept, and today it’s still continually relied upon to lower levels of inventory, create higher efficiencies, and improve delivery performance.
When companies talk about Lean, they typically refer to the operational benefits to the organization. But the end game of any operational improvement is to satisfy the customer. As we’ll see below, the Lean manufacturing benefits to companies and customers can often look remarkably similar. So what are they?
Lean manufacturing is not a one-off solution. It’s not a process that can be implemented and immediately expected to deliver results. Instead, it’s a plan that needs to be kept relatively simple and committed to over the long term.
“Preparing to launch a Lean program is the most critical step a company can take to create true behavior change in their approach to manufacturing,” said senior enterprise resource planning professional Dave Lechleitner in a Manufacturing Business Technology article.
Streamlining processes throughout the entire organization brings inefficiencies to light— from the front office all the way through distribution. Lean practices pay close attention to workflows at every point in the supply chain and maximize process efficiency at every step of the way.
As we know, the more efficient the production process, the faster customers get the products they order. Amazon’s supply chain, ranked #1 in the world by Gartner, shows a correlation between operational excellence and greater profit margins.
Creating a seamless customer experience at every point of interaction is a high priority for most companies. Lean implementation can help make this a reality.
Lean implementation can lead to a better-trained employee base. “That training, combined with a more pleasant work environment and an encouragement of new and creative ideas on the part of employees, leads to a happier, more productive, and more loyal staff,” notes a Quality Magazine article on improving manufacturing processes.
And, on a much broader scale, Lean manufacturing allows companies to create a customer-centric culture across the entire organization. Employees are engaged in their work and committed to meeting the needs of customers through more efficient processes, workflows, and attitudes.
As customers engage with a trained and customer-centric employee base, they find the types of experiences with companies that they’re looking to have.
Continuous improvement is a major tenet of the philosophy. After all, “true Lean perfection can never be achieved, and there are always improvements to be made, and improvements upon those,” notes transportation and logistics provider G&D Integrated.
For customers, that foundation is of paramount importance. It means that companies are continuously striving to build on improvements already made; they are pushing themselves to develop more efficient operations on a regular basis.
These small, incremental improvements create loyalty in customers. They can mean the difference between a completely satisfied customer and one who takes his or her business elsewhere.
There’s a reason why Lean manufacturing has increased in popularity and importance over the years. It allows companies to:
- Take a hard look at their existing operations
- Identify inefficiencies in processes and workflows
- Work to improve the quality and services they deliver to customers.
The end result? An improved bottom line for companies because of a more satisfying experience for customers.
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- Video – Omni-Channel: A New Kind of Speed
Jennie Dannecker serves as Brand Manager for Stanley Vidmar, where she has also held roles such as Government Marketing Manager and others since 2003.