Why do most lean programs fail? It is common for lean programs to start off well, but over time the initial progress is not sustained. A survey conducted by Industry Week in 2007 showed that over 70% of manufacturing plants had implemented lean programs, but only 2% had achieved their objects. What was the problem? The survey authors identified the problem as being an upper management problem.
The successful lean program is one that changes the culture of an organization. It is a change toward embracing lean techniques throughout the organization - and this means continual change throughout the organization. This can be difficult for management to accept, in particular since in lean programs the ideas and energy for change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
Another aspect of lean programs that is difficult for American management to embrace is that lean programs are not standardized. The approach of doing action "A" and always getting result "B" does not work in lean. A positive change driven by lean in one facility cannot always be successfully implemented in exactly the same way in other facilities. We can learn from what others are doing, but for lean to be successful we must be open to modifying what has been used successfully in other locations.
Successful lean programs involve more than implementing lean techniques such as 5S and TPM. They look to develop a culture of continual improvement that moves in whatever direction is required for improvement. It needs to be a culture of continual improvement throughout the entire company, from the janitor to the executive suite - from R&D to shipping and receiving. Focusing a lean program on just part of an organization's operations will not result in a successful lean program. A lean program that does not embrace whatever needs to be done to improve, and do that throughout every area in the organization, will not be a successful lean program.
This type of total organizational culture is also required to optimize success with the new generation of people entering the workforce. This new generation grew up with rapid change that continually brings improvements. They grew up with computers, the internet, fast-paced games, cell/smart phones, twitter and continual on-going change. They communicate in new ways, and expect their ideas and opinions to be heard and valued. They accept rapid change as not only normal, but necessary for growth. This is the culture of lean.
With a culture of change there must be ways of communicating what has changed. In many cases this is done through visual communication using labels and signs. Visual communication is a critical part of lean programs because it delivers the needed information right at the location where it is needed. DuraLabel is an important part of visual communication because DuraLabel delivers quality, versatile label printers and tough-tested supplies that effectively communicate their message while resisting environmental conditions.
DuraLabel custom label and sign printers are the most productive and easy-to-use printers available. For example, the DuraLabel TORO is a four inch, battery powered portable label printer with touch screen technology, that can make pipe markers, arc flash labels, 5S markers, bar code labels, OSHA safety signs, and any signs and labels needed to support a lean program. When it comes to quality, versatility and productivity, nothing matches a DuraLabel printer.
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