What 5 Trends Are Most Driving Lean Manufacturing Strategies?

Oct 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM

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Is the answer to the question used in my headline too obvious? At least part of it certainly should be, as ‘budget reductions’ is certainly one of the key trends driving lean.

But going lean is not just about reducing costs.  Lean can be defined with words ranging from ‘efficiency’ to ‘green’ – and between these two words is too wide of a scope to tie into one obvious trend.

And with that, here are the five trends I see as most driving lean manufacturing:

1. Budget Reductions There is no sugar-coating the suffering that our economy has gone through as of late.  And this suffering has led to sometime significant budget cuts that have all but forced lean decisions.  That said – recovery is within our reach – and per the results of the eight annual Prime Advantage Group Outlook (GO) Survey – 87% of manufacturing companies see revenues as the same or better through the balance of the year.

That said, this same survey indicates that the manufacturing employment outlook is far more conservative, as 11% of manufacturing companies plan to increase layoffs.  In other words, while the economy may be improving, the budget reduction trend appears to be still firmly in place – squaring us in a lean new world.

2. Process Improvements The trend towards lean manufacturing is not all surrounded by grim economic reality.  Many manufacturing companies, whether forced into lean or not, have taken the opportunity to create greater efficiencies within their day-to-day operations.

And this has helped usher in a new trend of process improvements, as companies develop strategies designed to meet new objectives through more efficient use of existing resources.  For those developing a lean manufacturing strategy, I encourage you to read a recent post by my colleague Bob Aronson – who will help ensure your lean manufacturing strategy is ‘just right.’

3. Green Supply Chain Management Driven in seemingly equal part by social responsibility and environmental regulations, the trend towards green is impacting nearly every industry – including manufacturing.

Rooted in the very idea of using fewer resources, and producing less waste, the trend towards green is an underlying force driving lean manufacturing as companies must assess – and improve – everything from transportation planning to package design to comply with new green supply chain management guidelines.

4. Footprint Reduction Essentially a sub-trend of green, the idea of footprint reduction is rooted in the notion of using fewer resources.  Footprint reduction, though, is concerned specifically with the physical space being used.

A recent post I wrote about new warehouse management technology goes deeper into this trend, and describes how new technologies are helping to achieve this goal through better supply chain and inventory management.

5. Need for Visibility A big barrier many companies are striving to overcome, en route to lean, is visibility into manufacturing operations. In a recent post, Mark Symonds of Panorama Consulting describes how the demands of lean are driving companies to look deeper at the capabilities of their current (or prospective) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software when it comes to achieving greater project and process visibility.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t lean it,” writes Symonds, as he helps close out the final trend on our list.

What trends do you see as most driving lean manufacturing? I encourage you to share your thoughts. Stay tuned to our manufacturing insights, follow us on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Author
Luciano Cunha

Luciano Cunha

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) For Luciano, being responsible for To-Increase’s global sales and marketing means unleashing the company’s insight, innovation, and creativity to tell our story and help customers achieve their goals. On the road much of the time, he travels the world to meet with customers, understand their challenges and ambitions, and find the most effective ways to help them advance. Luciano develops and mentors our marketing and sales team, and creates strategies to help the To-Increase worldwide partner channel thrive and grow.
Making Customer Needs the Main Business Driver Luciano and his team have daily conversations with the To-Increase research and development organization to bring customers’ requirements and concerns into the road maps and design of our solutions. Luciano brings his insight to the marketing group to make sure the company’s communications resonate with customers and speak directly to their experience.
“I’m awed by customers’ innovative spirit in taking business management technology past its limits and by their generosity in letting us participate and empower them. I hope to transform our organization to become even more customer-centric than we are today. That means making more resources available to spend productive time with both our customers and partners, so we can ensure that we place into customer businesses effective solutions that fit the evolutionary stage of their operation and the way their people and processes work.”
Empowering a Global Channel
Because To-Increase only sells through partners, readying the channel to be successful in helping customers is a business-critical effort. Luciano aims to meet partners where their interests are. Partners who consider the relationship with To-Increase strategic can rely on our industry specialists to work with them as they plan their growth and serve customers. If partners prefer a less collaborative relationship, they still receive the rich To-Increase expertise and resources to ensure they win the business, perform a successful deployment, and retain a satisfied customer. In working with partners and their customers, Luciano brings to bear his experience of many years of creating successful, customer-focused business development and marketing strategies in many of the world’s countries and regions.
Enabling Customer Success in Challenging Business Environments
Looking into the near future, Luciano expects that customers will continue to expect To-Increase to help them make business sense of unfolding trends and technologies. For example, the internet of things (IoT) will thoroughly revolutionize manufacturing, engineering, and supply chains. Big data will be meaningful and valuable when decision-makers can use technology solutions to transform it into actionable business intelligence that supports key roles and business processes. Mobility will help companies become digital enterprises and move business processes forward from any location, at any time. Team To-Increase harnesses innovation to help customers translate the promise of these technologies into business results.
Before his current role, Luciano for several years was one of To-Increase’s global industry directors, responsible for our industry solutions. His experience also spans more than 17 years in IT and manufacturing management roles. These positions took him into various areas at IBM Brazil, serving as product manager for several software development companies, and included working in senior management at a manufacturing organization in the U.S.
Luciano is married with two young children. Away from work, he enjoys participating in a soccer class together with his son and daughter as well as taking relaxing walks in natural environments with his family.

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