To successfully move toward lean manufacturing, it’s essential to have a solid plan in place and clear goals for which to aim. When determining your goals, it’s important that they are realistic and effective, and as long as you’re SMART about it, this should not be a problem. The acronym – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-specific – is a great way to stay on track in the planning and implementation stages of improving your factory. It can be applied to any aspect of supply chain management, whether you want to focus on cost efficient manufacturing or waste reduction.
Rather than creating broad, sweeping goals such as “improve inventory management,” elaborate on the idea by including details. According to iSixSigma, you can ask yourself a few questions to establish specific goals. Primarily, determine what you want to accomplish and why it’s important in terms of lean manufacturing. Then, decide who will need to be involved and how long it should reasonably take to meet the goal. You should also determine what metrics you want to see change during this time, such as a percentage that you’d like to see the inventory management budget drop in a set period of time.
In addition to deciding what changes you’d like to see as a result of working toward your goal, you may want to establish what data you can track over the course of a project to ensure your efforts are in line with your schedule. This can allow you to make adjustments as needed based on actual results. Anything can throw plans off track, from an unexpected influx of orders to shipment delays to equipment failures. When you can measure progress, it’s much easier to determine the effectiveness of your strategy during the implementation. In turn, you’re more likely to find success.
This step is often categorized as “action-oriented,” but both names target the same strategy – to ensure the goal is one that can be reached. You can do this by creating an action plan of steps to take to get from your current state to the end results you want. If you cannot see a clear path to the goal, you may need to re-evaluate its attainability. Say, for instance, that you want to improve the efficiency of the production line by completely eliminating lead times within the next six months. This may be too ambitious for the timeframe, even if you establish a vendor managed inventory (VMI) program. In this example, it would be better to change from zero lead time to reducing it by 50%. The chance of success would be much greater. Once this goal is achieved, you can set another goal for further reduction as part of your continuous improvement effort.
Just as it’s important to keep your ambition in check, you should also be wary of setting unrealistic goals. Even if you know that buying all new equipment could vastly improve efficiency and reduce waste, it’s more than likely that doing so is not in the cards due to budgetary or time constraints. Instead, you may find that it makes more sense for your current situation to replace the most problematic machine and perform repairs on those creating production downtime, or establish a maintenance schedule to keep the equipment you already have in working condition.
Don’t leave your goals open-ended, as this makes it less likely you’ll reach them. When determining how long to give your employees to reach a certain goal, LeanManufacture.net recommended keeping the other steps in mind, and choosing an end date that is attainable and realistic. It’s also a good idea to establish periodic reviews over the course of the timeline, so you can measure the efforts being made and ensure everything is going according to plan.
If you’re interested in mitigating the impact of forecasted price increases or supply chain incidentals or you’re just interested in discovering how to make your production process leaner Reserve Your Complimentary Kaizen Event Package Today (FREE events are limited and granted on a first come, first serve basis).