Published in Flexo Magazine, September 1, 2009, pages 49-52.
Lean, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Principles. What is all this discussion of Lean? And what does it mean to the printer? First, let’s figure out what Lean is. Lean is a set of ideas, concepts, tools, and principles that were developed over a number of years, mostly by Toyota Motor Corp. as the Toyota Production System (TPS). The company developed this system as a means to be competitive in a difficult marketplace against large competitors with greater resources. The values that underpin Lean include: respect for people, continuous improvement, minimizing waste, just-in-time (JIT) production, custom and small-lot production, problem solving, teamwork, focusing on customer value, and employee development. With that background, you may ask what value Lean has for printers. Nearly all Lean principles focus on ways to better run a business and particularly ways to better run a manufacturing business in a competitive landscape. So Lean has numerous applications for printers. Lean is simple in concept but complex to implement and sustain. It took Toyota several decades to refine their ideas.
The definitive version is available at Flexo Magazine Online.