Lean systems are formulated for manufacturing industries where they function to reduce waste while on the hand increase productivity (Elbert, 2016). With the traditional systems of manufacturing a lot of waste used to be experienced where the company would end up making unnecessary losses. In many manufacturing industries today the shifting from the traditional systems to the lean production systems is happening rapidly since most of them have realized its advantages. However, this is not happening without some trade-offs that the companies are experiencing. In the past, some unnecessary activities used to happen which used to make the company lose some funds. These activities included unnecessary transportations, overproduction, and excess inventory among others. The lean system aims to eliminate such activities while at the same cutting the cost for the organizations (Secchi, & Camuffo, 2016). Shifting into the lean system also affects some individual and other areas since change always has its victims. However, the system has more advantages and its incorporation with technology helps it to function even more effectively towards the minimization of waste and cost.
Trade-offs involved in shifting from traditional operations system to lean system
Tradeoffs are meant to bring a balance between two entities that are not compatible with each other. In a manufacturing firm, one example of a tradeoff that may arise is that of having to change the time for the delivery materials from the suppliers. In the traditional system companies request for raw materials and end up storing them in the stores, and some might go bad in the process. With the lean system, the suppliers are asked to supply raw materials which require to be manufactured at that particular time, and that is a tradeoff meant to cut the cost (Das, 2018). Another example would be the company that is shifting would be forced to stop the overproduction of goods and move start processing them only when there is an order. Sometimes goods produced may fail to attract any customer and end up becoming waste with the making of pre-orders is a tradeoff that the manufacturing company might have to make.
Organizations that belong to the service delivery to their clients also have some tradeoffs that they might involve themselves. The work of human resource management is to make sure that there is enough personnel to work and deliver the services that the particular organization offers. One tradeoff that this department might get involved is that of calculating the number of employees needed to complete a particular task and forego the rest. In most service firms there are those periods that the customer numbers are not high and there are others when the customers are more (Das, 2018). With such a scenario an organization may find itself sending some employees on a mandatory leave during the low season and regaining them during the high customer season. Another tradeoff with this instance is where firms may shift into hiring employees on a contract basis rather than a permanent basis. This eliminates the cost of production and waste whereby the employees are paid on a “the more you work, the more you get paid” and vice versa basis.
Who is affected by shifting from traditional operations system to lean system?
Shifting from one way of learning things to another in an organization is accompanied by a lot of changes that are inevitable. Shifting from the traditional system to the modern lean system is no exception and may have some casualties who are affected by the move. These changes are shared across all divides where every stakeholder is affected in one way or the other. The changes begin from the top manager to the employees of the organizations way down to those around the area of business. However with the lean system mostly affects that personnel in the management and operations dockets. This is because those are the areas where most of the changes take place with the aim of minimizing waste and cost (Elbert, 2016). To begin with the management, major reshuffles are done and those individuals who have the idea of how the systems work are given the mandate to implement the shifting process. This affects the previous traditional management because it also takes time for them to have to adapt to the new system. The next groups of people who are affected by the shifting are the individuals in the operations departments. These are the people who conduct the processes of manufacturing or the offering of services at the operations level. With the lean system, they are affected in the situation whereby some might be asked to down their tools and are sent packing in the aim of reducing cost. Sometimes the company might do the math of how much output is produced against the number of workers involved in the production of that output. With the solution, the extra employees are eliminated to make sure the input matches the output in the firm.
To avoid them feeling the pinch to a large extent, it is advisable that they should be informed of the changes earlier enough and prepare them for the change instead of getting them off guard. This helps them even to prepare psychologically for the changes and reduces the effects that are accompanied by the change. One thing about the lean system is that it does not matter what position a person holds in the firm and when the implementation of the system comes anyone is likely to be affected (Secchi, & Camuffo, 2016). Apart from the management and the operations department other areas that can be affected are those of the processes that the firm used to undertake. Some of the activities are changed in terms of how and when they were done according to the traditional system. Some other areas that are affected by the changes are those of the equipment and tools that the company was using before the shift. The lean system sometimes requires changes being done to the tools and equipment of the company to make the changes implementable. Lastly the changes regardless of the effects that they implicate to the different areas and personnel in the firm work to making sure that the lean system works effectively and successfully.
Impact of technology on lean systems
Technology works in making work easier and providing efficient results from a particular task or undertaking. The lean system involves the changing from the more manual traditional forms to the new, modern and technological ways of handling things. In a nutshell, technology has had some positive impacts more than the negative ones in terms of the implementation of the lean system. One of the impacts of technology to the lean systems is that the acquiring of proper machinery have led to the organizations minimizing costs while on the other hand maximizing their profits (Hosseini-Nasab, Dehghani, & Hosseini-Nasab, 2013). Changing of the old manual tools and bringing on of technological ones enhances effectiveness whereby the output increases with the lowest cost possible. However, with the introduction of these pieces of machinery, employees sometimes are affected whereby they may get fired. This is because the types of machinery replace the work that was done by hands and hence those who were doing it become irrelevant in the process. For example, a task that would be done by five people in the traditional system may only require one person to operate with the introduction of new technology.
Another impact of technology on the lean system is that it results in the achievement of timeliness in any function. Technology is very fast when compared with the traditional manual system which is slow and depends on the knowledge of the person in charge. When the accomplishment of services is done in a haste and manner, the company is likely to gain some customer loyalty from its clients which are a positive impact on the future of the company. Lastly, another impact brought about by technology on the lean systems is that there is the elimination of errors that may occur with the dependence of the traditional means. Technological advancements are designed in such a way that they are free from error and are effectiveness oriented (Hosseini-Nasab, Dehghani, & Hosseini-Nasab, 2013). Secondly, they are permanently based and needs an expert to operate them as opposed to manual work where the person in charge may fail to report to work failing the whole operation.
One of the aims of all organizations during their inception is that at the end of the day the will be able to make maximum profits. The introduction of the lean system in any organization is one of the steps towards the achievement of this goal. Lean systems function towards the elimination of unnecessary cost and waste while maximizing on the output production. It is worth noting that several areas and departments are affected by this change, but at the end of the day the organization ends up gaining the expected results. Lastly to make the lean system even more powerful and effective the introduction of technology to the system impacts it in a positive way where waste is eliminated and huge profits achieved.
Hosseini-Nasab, H., Dehghani, M., & Hosseini-Nasab, A. (2013). Analysis of Technology Effectiveness of Lean Manufacturing Using System Dynamics. ISRN Industrial Engineering, 2013. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/237402/
Elbert, M. (2016). Lean production for the small company. Productivity Press.
Das, K. (2018). Integrating lean systems in the design of a sustainable supply chain model. International Journal of Production Economics, 198, 177-190.
Secchi, R., & Camuffo, A. (2016). Rolling out lean production systems: a knowledge-based perspective. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 36(1), 61-85.