Lean Layout: What is it and why do I need it?

What is Lean Layout? 

Lean Layout is applying the concepts and principles of Lean to something larger than one process. Too often, Lean efforts become focused around the minutia – how do I reduce this changeover time, how do I eliminate waste at my workspace. Lean Layout is the big picture – it takes a step back and says how are you organizing your whole facility? Where is the waste? How could you reorganize the whole organization so that it fits with the concepts of flow and Just-In-Time?

Lean Layout can be a real game changer in terms of saving money and freeing up labor. Take the layout of an agricultural factory below as a before and after:

lean_layout

By rearranging their factory floor into a “U” shaped layout, they reduced their labor needs from five workers down to two. By rearranging their machines and slowing down the speed of the production, they were able to operate all the processes with only two workers. They produced less product each day (going from 20 tons to 13.3 tons) however the change freed up three workers to start a second production line, producing a variety of products. Overall, the result was a 65% increase in worker productivity – an impressive jump thanks to Lean Layout.

Lean Layout can be applied to more than just the factory setting. Consider an office setup, how often do workers have to retreat to a different room to do printing and scanning? Which workers use the printers and scanners, are they as close as possible to those machines?

If you walk into a modern bank, most have implemented some Lean Layout principles. Often they have placed an island in the middle of the lobby, staffed by a manager. This person diverts people to teller windows or meetings with loan representatives, which flows naturally from that one point. By reshaping the teller windows and relocating bank personnel, they have created an easier flow for customers with shorter wait times.

Click here to view all the videos in our Lean Layout series. 

They cover everything from theory to advanced implementation.

You can learn all about this and much more with our series, Lean Layout. It will be available starting next week. In the meantime, at the bottom of the post there is a podcast with üttana President Collin McLoughlin talking about the importance of Flow, Pull and arranging your layout to meet customer demand. It is only fourteen minutes and good opening discussion.

March 11, 2014

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