Today we are scheduled to discuss “process” as a part of our Holistic Lean blog post series. Last week, we discussed “people” and the large role that they play within Holistic Lean. But could you imagine if the people were in plants with no known process to guide them on how to effectively achieve results? It’s hard to imagine. However, that is still the case in many organizations. There are still organizations that have not focused on their processes as much as they should. They are seeing results and have become complacent, not knowing that by revisiting how they do things within their plant, it may lead to even better results.
You may be asking yourself what is actually meant by that last statement. Well, many manufacturers still maintain a forecast-driven push approach using sophisticated forecasting systems that predict, often with dismal accuracy, what customers will buy. Unfortunately, these push methods tend to isolate factories and the supply chain from true customer demand signals, leading plants to produce too much of what customers don’t want, and not enough of what customers demand today. That is why leading manufacturing companies are transitioning away from forecast-driven push towards demand-driven pull – it focuses manufacturing and the entire supply chain on replenishing customers’ immediate needs, putting the customer in the driver’s seat instead of an inaccurate forecast.
For example, The Coca-Cola Company recently embraced demand-driven pull replenishment. They have seen a dramatic increase in demand variability and forecast error, caused primarily by an explosion in the number of brands, flavors, and sizes they must bottle and distribute. Working with outside consulting expertise, they designed demand-driven pull processes that work in the face of high demand variability and rapid new product introductions. This enables them to meet changing customer tastes much more responsively than their older, forecast-driven methods.
Has your company taken a closer look at the processes that are in place? What “process” programs do you have in place to ensure overall company success and the elimination of waste?