The idea of lean production was first analyzed in depth by John Krafcik when he and others were working on a motor vehicle program in the late 1980s. The idea was later popularized in The Machine that Changed the World (1990) by Womack, Jones and Roos.
Lean Production is ‘Lean’ because “it uses less of everything compared with mass production: half the human effort in the factory, half the factory space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time. Also, it requires far less than half of the needed inventory on site. The expected results are fewer defects, while producing a greater and ever growing variety of products.”
Lean thinking can be applied to manufacturing firms as well as service organizations and can be applied across all areas of business. It is a three-pronged approach that incorporates a belief in quality, waste elimination and employee involvement supported by a structured management system. James P Womack introduced five key principles that underpin the lean philosophy:
Specify what creates value as seen from the customer’s perspective–This implies a need for close relations with the customer to ensure that his perception of value is embodied in what the supplier is offering. It is not safe to assume that the customer has the same perception of value as the supplier.
Identify all steps across the value– The key term is value stream. In a traditional supply chain, there will be many activities and processes that do not add value. In a lean chain, the aim is to eradicate these, leaving just a stream of value adding activities. The task of Asprova’s Synchronized Finite Capacity Scheduling feature is to determine this value chain on the basis of available capacity of resources, it eliminates all actions that are of no significance.
Perform those actions that create the value flow– Once the value adding activities are identified, consider how to link them so as to deliver the total value to the end customer.
Only make what is pulled by the customer just in time– This is a distinguishing feature of lean and agile philosophies. The traditional model of manufacturing often leads to production in advance of customer requirements (whether it refers to internal or external customers). Lean and agile production avoids this function.
Strive for perfection by continually removing successive layers of waste–This refers to avoidance of waste. Lean production utilizes and further develops the concept of ‘seven wastes’ pioneered by Taiichi Ohno.
Asprova’s planning and scheduling features are conducive for establishing lean production in the manufacturing firms. It synchronizes sales and operation functions and shortens lead time which removes waste in the form of avoiding overproduction and reducing inventory levels.