To implement lean principles successfully, it is important to identify, contain and solve problems quickly so the rest of the supply chain can continue working efficiently, says Chuck Emery in A Practical Approach to Lean.
The first step is to identify problems, says Emery. "Without knowing the process that is supposed to occur, it’s difficult to assess the problems in the process," he says.
Once a problem is identified, no matter how small, it should be contained "so it doesn’t pollute down the chain and disrupt the customer," he says.
The next step is defining the problem "by identifying the standard that is not being met and why it is important to resolve," he says.
Once the problem is identified and defined, a plan to resolve the problem can be put into place. It is important to document the results and standardize them across the organization once the desired targets are achieved.
"Don’t wait for small problems to become catastrophes before you deal with them,” Emery says. To create efficiencies at every level of the supply chain, even small issues must be addressed.
The renewed interest in using lean principles for the supply chain is one of the trends identified by MDM in the 2015 Distribution Trends Special Issue. Read more about which capabilities are necessary for a lean culture in A Practical Approach to Lean.