I enjoyed this recent article in Industry week that noted technology can help manufacturers take lean to the next level because technology is a critical component of lean planning in modern operations. While it might be appropriate to start with the “technology agnostic” philosophy that so many experts cherish, you can only get so far on generic process improvement alone.
For example, if a company is introducing a new product, the early-warning portal can be integrated with enterprise resource planning systems and other shop-floor applications and measurements to provide detailed information about additional materials that may be required at assembly line supply point. This allows plant personnel to view color-coded kanban alerts that show where a demand or engineering change may impact supply cycles and get lean right the first time.
Pure lean principles need to be looked at in tandem with industry-leading best practices in supply chain, such as intelligent inventory management, response management and demand management, in order to create the ideal lean plant. Furthermore, the approach of avoiding software is no longer realistic in today’s environment due to the simple fact that there are too many constraints, which cannot be handled manually with ad hoc tools.
So use technology earlier in the process. You might just find that results materialize faster than you expected.