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How Aussie manufacturers can deliver more value by cutting waste across the value chain

Lean project management applies the Lean principles – which we dived into before on the Jobman blog – to a real-world manufacturing setting. In a nutshell, Lean principles focus on delivering the right product at the right price without wasting time or resources along the way.

Whether you’re running a small cabinetmaking workshop or a rapidly growing fabrication business, thinking Lean can help you grow your business in measured steps.

Let’s break down the core values to determine how you can put these value-adding ideas into practice in five repeatable steps.

1. Identify Value From Your Customers’ Perspective

It all starts with changing your perspective. As a business owner or manufacturing production manager, it’s natural to look at your business from the inside out. But that’s not how your customers see it – and your customers define your value.

  • Identify the customer’s objective
  • Find out what they’re willing to pay for
  • Focus on solving their problem, not adding flourishes

Before starting any project like iterating a new product, investing in a new service, or trialling an experimental material, try asking your customers what value they place on the outcome. If they aren’t willing to pay for it, you’re likely to throw good money after bad.

2. Value Stream Mapping

A value stream describes every value-adding and non-value-adding activity that transforms raw material into a finished product.

Start by creating a detailed diagram of your target process or project. Analyse this map to spot waste (non-value-adding activity) and potential savings (value-adding opportunities), then use this insight to create an ideal version of the process.

Getting from the current state to your future-focused map involves an improvement plan that evolves over time. Don’t worry if the task looks daunting; that’s what the next steps are for.

3. Streamlined Workflows

Now you know what value your customer expects and the current process to deliver it. Our next targets are waste and production bottlenecks.

Lean identifies seven types of waste:

  1. Inefficient inventory
  2. Downtime (waiting)
  3. Defective products
  4. Overproduction
  5. Unnecessary movement
  6. Transportation
  7. Over-processing

Eliminating these wastes will drastically improve your balance sheet and deliver your customers better quality products, with shorter lead times and higher consistency.

4. Create A Pull System

It’s challenging to time production just right. By applying the Lean principle of a “pull system”, you’re effectively relying on customer signals to set the pace of operations.

Pull systems are characterised by:

  • Agility to respond quickly to customer demands
  • Just-in-time stock levels
  • Work in Progress (WIP) limits
  • Reduced waste and improved efficiency
  • Tasks prioritised based on workload and available resources

A pull system can transform a languishing operation to a sleek, streamlined manufacturing marvel when you get it right.

5. A Cycle Of Continuous Improvement

Unlike traditional project management approaches, Lean is all about finding small wins that build into big profits. That means the work is never done – and your processes are never static.

There’s always room to improve. So continue to apply the previous four Lean principles in an iterative approach that challenges you and your team to seek out waste, add value, and deliver more of what your customer needs. That’s called continuous improvement.

How an ERP supports Lean manufacturing project management

Real-time data and tailored insights are your secret weapons in the pursuit of continuous improvement. Jobman, an ERP for the Aussie manufacturing industry, centralises production and operational data from across your business, providing real-time insight into every part of your operation.

By working with Jobman, you have all the information you need to follow Lean project management principles and grow your business in the right direction. Contact our team to find out more.

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