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16 Material Flow Leadership

This lesson focuses on the importance of sustaining and improving a Material Flow system, once it is designed and implemented. The sustaining portion of this goal includes Standard Work, where a process is documented clearly, people are trained in that process, and an audit system and oversight system is put in place. This ensures that staff are actually following the standards. The improving part of the management system is that the standard is not thought of as “cast in bronze”. Instead it is something that can be continually improved upon, using the PDCA methodology.

We will review PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) in more detail soon. PDCA is the Lean version of the scientific method: come up with an idea (improvement) that you want to test, try it out, evaluate the outcomes, and integrate the ideas that bear fruit.

Here are the topics that we will cover in this lesson:

1.  “What Gets Measured Gets Done” applies to the Material Flow system, and you will review the key metrics to track your system performance, and the stress the importance of visual communication.
2.  Next we’ll talk about Continuous Improvement, and setting Target Conditions or improvement goals on the never-ending path toward achieving the Vision.
3.  Auditing is one of the tools, and you will review in detail three important audits that you will conduct periodically: the Kanban  audit, the Supermarket audit, and the Delivery Route audit.
4.  Finally, we’ll consider the structure of a Lean Management System. Material Flow is a system in itself, and the process by which this system is sustained is also a system, a management system. Without a management system that is focused on sustaining and improving, your Material Flow system will degrade over time, no matter how good it is when it was launched.