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Hi there, I'm Ron Pereira of Gemba Academy and I'd like to ask you a question. If someone asked you to explain, and I mean really explain, what this thing called Lean Manufacturing was all about, well what would you say? Well by the end of this video, you'll understand and be able to explain exactly what Lean is. And you'll have advanced or perhaps even begun, your personal continuous improvement journey. Okay.
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Well before we get started, allow me to explain what it is you're about to learn. Well by the end of this video, you'll know why Lean can and will change the world if applied properly.
And you'll also know what lean is and isn't, as well as, its long history. Finally, you'll be introduced to some of the most common Lean principles, systems, philosophies and tools used today by business, healthcare, and government organizations around the world. Well let's begin by discussing why any of us should bother understanding or implementing Lean. And to get us started, let's begin with a quote from Dr. Deming who once said, "It's not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. " And while it wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that Lean and other continuous improvement methodologies, such as Six Sigma will solve all of the world's problems, the recent global economic crisis we find ourselves in has made it crystal clear that organizations must be willing to change and improve if they hope to prosper and in some cases, survive.
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Well in addition to basic survival, let's spend a few minutes discussing some other reasons changing the way we think and operate has never been more important than it is today. First, world markets are definitely expanding and the need to compete on a global basis has never been more important. It doesn't matter where in the world you live or work, I promise you someone is working to do it for less and at better quality. Next, because of the tough economic times we find ourselves in, our customers are demanding better quality, delivery, and lower costs like never before. And finally, the traditional methods of operating our companies simply don't work anymore. The days of holding massive amounts of inventory and taking months to deliver a product a consumer wants in days are long gone.
Okay. Well now that we have a better understanding of the need for change, let's learn what Lean is and how it can help each and every one of us. First of all, Lean is an operational excellence strategy that enables you to change for the better. In fact, the Japanese word Kaizen, which is often used by Lean practitioners to describe incremental improvements made throughout the Lean journey means to change for the better. And while Kaizen can lead to quick improvements, the true spirit of Lean is to work with a slow and steady purpose, instead of quickly and recklessly. Along these lines, Taiichi Ohno, one of the chief architects of the Toyota Production System, once said, “The slower but consistent tortoise causes less waste and is much more desirable than the speedy hare that races ahead and then stops occasionally to doze. ” Mr. Ohno goes on to say that “the Toyota Production System can be realized only when all the workers become tortoises. ” Another common definition is that Lean is the persistent pursuit in elimination of waste. The Japanese word for waste is Muda which describes any activity that's done, but adds no real value to the product or service. Sadly, many companies latch onto the elimination of waste aspect of Lean while completing forgetting about arguably the most important aspect of Lean, namely respect for people. So while we must always fight to eliminate waste, we must never lose sight of our most important assets of all, our employees. Finally, Lean is not only about attacking waste while increasing the speed at which products are produced. You see Lean is also very focused on improving the quality of our products, as well as, the stability of our processes. In fact, many Lean principles such as one-piece flow, will never succeed without stable and high quality processes in place. Alright. Well in order to truly understand what Lean's all about, it's important to understand its history. And as we'll soon learn, the terms “Lean Manufacturing” or “Lean Enterprise” are actually relatively new in the grand scheme of things. In fact, most people assume that so called "Lean Thinking" started in Japan by the founders of Toyota. This is actually false. In fact, in 1574 King Henry III watched the Venice Arsenal produce finished galley ships every hour using continuous flow processes. Well when we fast forward to the year 1799, we discover Eli Whitney perfecting the concept of interchangeable parts which was another manufacturing breakthrough. Next in 1902, a young man by the name of Sakichi Toyoda revolutionized the manufacturing world forever with his invention of the Jidoka concept. Simply put, Mr. Toyoda discovered a way to make his mother’s automatic loom stop running when a piece of thread broke instead of continuing to run while creating excess amounts of wasted product. Well little did he know, but the concept of Jidoka, or automation with a human touch, would later become a pillar of the vaunted Toyota Production System. A few years later, a man by the name of Henry Ford was busy building an American empire called the Ford Motor Company and in 1910 Ford moved operations to Highland Park, often referred to as the "Birthplace of Lean Manufacturing" due to the continuous flow of parts throughout the massive plant. A year later in 1911, Sakichi Toyoda traveled to the United States in order to study Ford's revolutionary way of producing the Model T. It was shortly after this visit that Mr. Toyoda first began to conceptualize what we now call the Toyota Production System. Then in 1938, the Just in Time or JIT concept was born at Toyota. The basic premise behind JIT is that we only make what we need, when we need it, while downstream processes take what they need from upstream processes. When coupled together with the other pillar of TPS, Jidoka, or automation with a human touch, we arrive at what's often refer to as the TPS Stonehenge, which places the concept of thoroughly removing waste while respecting people at the top. 1949 was an extremely important year in the history of TPS, as a young engineer named Taiichi Ohno was promoted to shop floor manager at Toyota. Mr. Ohno would soon become one of the chief architects of the Toyota Production System. In fact, Mr. Ohno was the first person to develop the "elimination of waste" concept, as well as, the first to use Kanban to control the amount of work in process produced within the plant. And while Mr. Ohno is commonly remembered for the invention of many of the Lean tools we use today, it could be argued that his greatest gift to us all was the way he challenged Toyota associates to think and solve problems by asking “Why?” again and again. Next, as the Toyota Production System matured and Toyota began to excel as a corporation, the rest of the world began to take notice. In 1975, the Toyota Production System was translated into English, enabling, for the first time, non-Japanese speaking individuals the opportunity to learn all about this amazing production system. Well up to this point, the term "Lean Manufacturing" wasn't actually used to describe the way Toyota worked. This all changed in 1990 as a group of American researchers lead by Dr. James Womack, traveled the world in order to study the various manufacturing methods in use. Well what they learned during their travels was that Toyota was by far the most efficient automotive company in the world. And it was at this time that one of Dr. Womack's research assistants actually coined the phrase, "Lean Manufacturing. " Well as it turns out, the term “Lean”, as well as, the results of their research was shared with the world when the book, "The Machine that Changed the World" was released. This brings us to the present day. And while Lean is definitely being used to eliminate waste and increase profits in manufacturing environments around the world, Lean has also spread to many other areas. In fact, you'll find Lean being utilized in office environments where things such as reducing the time it takes to process customer orders is very common. Another area Lean has really taken off is, in hospitals where things like reducing errors and the time it takes to find critical supplies has added tremendous value. The military is also attacking waste and variation with both Lean and Six Sigma. And even parts of the U. S. Postal Service have begun their own Lean journey where they've benefited from the use of tools like value stream mapping and error proofing. Alright. Well now that we've covered the history of Lean Manufacturing, it's time to discuss some of the most common tools Lean practitioners employ. .