“Lean Manufacturing is as important today as it was when it was conceived,” declares Gary Marion in Lean Manufacturing in a Digital World.

Lean Manufacturing is all about minimizing waste and cost without sacrificing productivity. In fact, productivity often spikes when resources aren’t wasted.

Manufacturers who follow Lean principles usually have an internal team member responsible for the initiative or have brought in an outside consultant. But any manufacturer can bring a Lean “mindset” to their organization and seek out time and money leaks in their processes, to improve their bottom line.

Once the inefficiency has been identified, we—your outside IT team—help to answer the questions the problem raises: How do we do this better? Can we create a shortcut? What would make this process easier and less wasteful?

We support the manufacturer through the technology and software solutions that often go together with “lean” processes and problem-solving.

For example, I was talking with a potential client in the aerospace industry about their current process for gathering customer feedback: The customer emails feedback when requesting a return authorization. The customer service team then prints (!) the emails, sorting them into piles according to issue category. At the end of the year, they review the piles, and determine how to rectify the major issues. (My fingers hurt just writing about the tedious process.)

When the company went through last year’s emails, it turned out that a significant percentage of products were returned due to damage in shipping.

Did their packaging change? Did they change box suppliers? Were they using a different shipper? In short, they found that had they packaged their products better, they would have eliminated the cost of all those returns.

This is exactly where we help our customers: improving existing processes to better serve their customers and reduce waste. I suggested an electronic feedback form that customers could complete anytime they were providing feedback, positive or negative. By collecting data quickly and easily in a format that could be easily compiled and quantified, issues could be rectified more quickly, rather than waiting for an end-of-year, manual review.

With an electronic feedback form in place, the company could pull a report by date range at any time to see, for example, that they had 5 positive and 8 negative comments, and that of those negative comments 6 were about packaging and the other 2 were about delivery time.

Tracking good data and analyzing it in real time is key to implementing Lean Manufacturing. It also helps manufacturers stay compliant with ISO and other quality certifications. Imagine how many returns could have been prevented if the aerospace company improved their packaging as soon as the issue presented itself?

Often, we find that manufacturers have the tools and software they need—and just haven’t used all the available modules to their advantage. We come in and train the team how to use their ERP or CRM software to gather the data they need to improve their business.

Are you done wasting company time, money and resources? Give us a call. As your outside IT team, we can help you do business better.

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