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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
Lean at the Core... • Focus on Customer Value & Employee Development • Emphasize Ways to Better Run the Business • Pursue Continuous Improvement, Just-in-Time Production • Minimize Waste • Develop a Framework of/for Innovation www.flexography.org SEPTEMBER 2009 FLEXO 49 PLANTS & PROCESSES 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 com- pany 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 solv- ing, 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 manu- facturing 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. DISCLAIMER: FOR REAL! Before focusing on Lean tools for printers, it is imperative to know that it is mostly about human capital development. It is about building a culture of inquiry and continuous improve- ment. It is about leveraging the eyes, ears and brains of the people "on the floor," empowering them to question how everything is done. For Lean to be effective, employees must be empowered to think differently and look at alternatives to "the way it has always been done." What Lean Means for Printers Reducing Setups and Makereadies is Just the Beginning By Malcolm G. Keif Photo courtesy Associated Labels.