As the economy sputters toward recovery, many companies are adopting Lean manufacturing standards to improve efficiency, save money, and optimize the entire production process. Developed and put into practice by Toyota several decades ago, Lean is a strategy designed to identify and eliminate waste while improving the production process and reducing costs. The strategy has steadily gained popularity over the last couple of decades as businesses seek to improve the efficiency of their manufacturing processes. Though originally put into practice in the assembly lines of Japanese auto plants, the Lean principles can be adjusted and adopted by any type of industry.
Business Review USA has assembled a list of the top Lean manufacturing books on the market. While one cannot learn everything from reading, the books listed give managers and executives the necessary tools to incorporate this innovative production strategy into their organization.
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO LEAN: JAMIE FLINCHBAUGH
Using an analogy that relates the implementation of the principles of Lean manufacturing to hitchhiking, Jamie Flinchbaugh, the founder and partner of the Lean Learning Center in Michigan, outlines important lessons he has learned in his 30 years of consulting experience in the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean: Lessons from the Road (ISBN13: 9780872638310).
Flinchbaugh presents the reader with a roadmap to navigate the entire lean implementation process, insisting that no single route is right for every company. He breaks down the common challenges most companies face and offers practical, straightforward advice for avoiding these pitfalls and transforming the company into an effective Lean business. The book also offers advice from companies who have successfully implemented the Lean principles into practice including, DaimlerChrysler, DTE Energy and Nemak Corporation.
LEAN SOLUTIONS: JAMES WOMACK & DANIEL JONES
In Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together (ISBN13: 9780743277785), James Womack and Daniel Jones look at extending Lean principles past the production cycle and into consumption patterns. Citing inefficiencies in the purchase experiences of consumers, Womack and Jones propose that businesses not only map the production cycle, but also map the steps that consumers take to purchase their product or service. Areas where the maps do not match signify the areas where problems occur and give businesses an idea of where to improve the consumer experience. The authors suggest that companies use the Lean manufacturing principles to streamline the purchasing process to eliminate these problems completely.
CREATING A LEAN CULTURE: DAVID MANN
Creating a Lean Culture: Second Edition (ISBN13: 9781439811412) is the preeminent book on the topic by David Mann. The winner of the 2006 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research, Mann breaks the Lean process down into realistic steps that managers and executives can easily incorporate into any business. Mann explains that the key to Lean success is the full participation and support of all involved stakeholders. Instead of dwelling on theories and concepts, Mann provides examples and figures to illustrate how to put each step into action while motivating stakeholders to sustain the progress that is made. The result is progress and success from both the top down and bottom up.
BUILDING A LEAN FULFILLMENT STREAM: ROBERT MARTICHENKO AND KEVIN VON GRABE
The latest book on the market, Building a Lean Fulfillment Stream (ISBN13: 9781934109199) is a workbook written by Lean experts Robert Martichenko and Kevin von Grabe. The authors use ABE Corp. as an example to show readers the full implementation process of adopting Lean principles into the production process. To further illustrate their suggestions, the authors include value-stream maps, improvement metrics, charts and illustrations and financial results.
Readers learn to measure the total cost of customer fulfillment to reduce costs, identify and eliminate the seven common types of waste in the company and the production cycle, and use Lean metrics to measure progress. As a result, the authors give executives and managers a clear picture of how to implement Lean principles successfully.
THE MACHINE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: JAMES WOMACK
Written two decades ago, The Machine That Changed the World (ISBN13: 9780060974176) stands the test of time to examine the origins of the Lean manufacturing process through a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study of the automobile plants of Japan. Womack discusses the Lean manufacturing process through both the study of ninety automobile assembly plants all over the world and interviews with the key stakeholders involved. The book has sold more than 600,000 copies and has been translated into 11 languages in the twenty years since its release. It continues to be an essential book to add to the Lean library of engineers, managers and executives alike.
Though these books provide a point of reference for most managers and executives, it’s important to remember that what works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Fortunately, Lean principles allow companies to implement a strategy that closely fits their unique needs.