How manufacturers can maximise business growth with lean thinking

Posted by Samantha Poynton on 23 Feb


In the business environment, the concept of Lean is often associated with reducing waste and becoming more cost-effective. Although there is nothing incorrect with this assumption, it does somewhat undervalue the potential for ‘lean thinking' to bring about business transformation and to create a more agile platform for business growth.

Lean thinking. It extends from better resource management and improved customer service to more engaged staff. Working relationships with suppliers can be enhanced too, and your R&D can progress with far greater confidence and insight.

Smoothing and speeding up business processes

A lean workplace tends to have more connectivity and automation compared to others. It is not just about the technology but also the thought processes and methodologies applied to all business operations. 

Imagine a situation in which your entire business operations could be one continuous flow, from buying materials to marketing campaigns, right through to order fulfilment.

Technology such as ERP Enterprise Resource Planning can help you manage your inventory in a far more intuitive way; you could look more closely at each department, review each piece of machinery or workgroup, find the inefficiencies and analyse how to cut waste in materials, time and energy consumption.

It would also enable far more rapid and less disruptive changes, temporary or permanent. Lean thinking means knowing your peaks and bottlenecks and continuously planning for improvements.

Any alterations you make to working practices and systems would also be instantly communicated along the chain.

Being lean means looking ahead as well 

Using lean principles to create one orchestrated business process provides the power of prediction. Your business management systems will inform and support pinpoint accurate data modelling. Real-time and detailed business intelligence is invaluable in formulating growth strategies.

For example, where is the most potential capacity in your business operations – which machine or team has time to support a prototype project or roll out items for a new marketplace? Or even which machines need maintenance. Data like this can assist with the strategic decision-making process.

Lean principles can improve human interactions

Lean principles can help you become a more environmentally conscious company, managing energy efficiency and waste while reducing operational costs.

Technology and lean provide more business intelligence on workforce patterns, potential improvements and productivity rates - it can be crucial to business growth. This level of insight could help you create a more agile workforce - improved staff relations, and employees will not feel so “undervalued” and unsupported when under pressure, for example. Any changes you make to support business growth can be mapped out to your workforce in a way that secures better understanding and therefore engagement. It could also improve interactions and communications with other stakeholders such as supplier partnerships.

Lean thinking is also likely to present you with opportunities to improve customer experience. You will be in a far stronger position to offer quicker and more versatile responses, once all of your departments are connected.

One of the biggest forces in consumerism is personalisation. It is ironic that creating more automated and connected processes – largely through the best use of technology – enables businesses to be more personal and responsive in their customer interaction.

Technological support for lean

Lean thinking on this scale requires business management software such as ERP that integrates management of all core business processes. It can provide real-time control and accountability to support either gradual or rapid change.

It enables organisations to identify both threats and opportunities faster and act instantly. Contact WinMan ERP to see how lean can mean a successful business growth strategy for your company.

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Topics: ERP Software, Lean Manufacturing, Furniture Manufacturing, Business Efficiency, Productivity

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