The business world is not only a fast-moving place, but is also made up of many different sectors. From tech, travel and manufacturing to aerospace, there is a lot to choose from in the corporate world. Media is also a massive industry globally and encompasses many different niches – from print newspapers to online magazines.
Podcasts have become a very important part of the media world over recent years and a popular way for people all over the planet to relax after a busy day. In addition, the latest podcasts enable people to find out more about new subjects or dive deeper into ones in which they already have an interest. For people who produce top-class podcasts, it is key to find ways to give listeners more of what they want and refine how they produce content.
A good way to go about this is by looking at the general business world and seeing what techniques you can take from it. Lean manufacturing can be useful in this regard, as can establishing a lean supply chain.
But what is lean production, what is a lean supply chain, and how does this kind of supply chain work?
What is lean manufacturing?
Before we take a closer look at what lean manufacturing supply chains are specifically, it is worth defining lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is an approach used in a business that concentrates on minimizing waste within the production process while also boosting productivity.
Taking a lean manufacturing approach can also help improve the quality of the finished product, reduce operating costs, refine previously inefficient processes and improve lead times. It is key to note that waste is not just related to materials used within the production process. It can also refer to how employees work and anything that the customer does not think adds value to the finished product.
The five principles of lean manufacturing
It is generally accepted that this way of operating relies on five key principles. These are:
- Teasing out value from the customers’ perspective.
- Mapping out the value stream.
- Creating a positive workflow.
- Only starting new work when the demand is there.
- Pursuing constant innovation through small improvements.
As you can see, this is not an overly complicated approach to production and can be fairly easy to implement. If you are a podcast producer, why not think about how you can add value to your own podcasts or make continuous improvements to your product in line with lean principles?
Where can you learn about lean manufacturing?
Although the above gives a good general overview of what lean manufacturing is, it does not give you an in-depth understanding of it. To achieve this, it is necessary to find out more through high-quality academic learning.
Kettering University Online is a popular choice and offers a lean manufacturing master’s degree that focuses on mechanical engineering theory/practice. Kettering’s master’s of lean manufacturing is also an online course that offers excellent flexibility and contains teaching on key areas such as Six Sigma for manufacturing.
By accessing the latest knowledge in this area through academic study, you will be able to not only find out more about lean manufacturing concepts, but also learn how best to implement them in your own field.
Is a lean approach to production only used in manufacturing?
Although the name might suggest that this is true, a lean approach to production is something that companies across numerous sectors utilize. It is true to say, though, that companies from the manufacturing and automotive worlds are most closely associated with it.
Despite this, lean is a production model that can extend into many other industries. This is true for content creation. For example, lean concepts could enable creators to record podcasts more efficiently. This may allow them to record more podcasts in a set period of time by streamlining recording processes and delivering topical or new shows more quickly.
Although lean manufacturing as a whole is an important approach in the modern business world, getting to grips with lean supply chains is even more crucial. But what are lean supply chains, and how do they work?
What is a lean manufacturing supply chain?
In simple terms, it refers to taking the general principles of lean production and applying them specifically to a business’s supply chain. A lean supply chain is one that operates smoothly, efficiently, and with no barriers to giving customers what they want on time.
This concept also promotes minimal wastage along the supply chain itself and builds flexibility to manage any unexpected issues that may occur. As such, it is most concerned with the process by which companies fulfill customer orders and customer expectations.
The lean manufacturing supply chain: how does it work?
Depending on the industry you operate in, concrete examples of a lean supply chain differ. If we were to look at a manufacturing company, for example, it could make its supply chain lean by reducing excessive fuel consumption in relation to its delivery vehicles. The company may also look at how efficiently processes in different parts of the supply chain work and make improvements where needed.
What about lean supply chains in podcasting production? Although the actions may differ, the concepts behind them remain the same. Podcast creators may look at how efficient their supply chain is in terms of producing content or cut back on costs by creating content in a less expensive studio/setting.
What benefits does a lean manufacturing supply chain offer?
Just as lean manufacturing has some great benefits for business, so also does taking a leaner approach to your supply chain. It can, for example, help to boost overall profits by reducing costs and enable you to ramp up overall productivity. This means that you make more money through having more products to sell, and also keep more of what you make by eliminating unnecessary expenses.
Focusing on a lean supply chain also means that you get to reduce wastage in the production process. By doing this, companies can cut back on not only how much waste they produce but also the costs involved with processing it. Automotive firms may trim waste from their supply chain by using more of each material when making their vehicles or introducing new tech that recycles waste back into usable resources.
Better for the planet and for the customer
As well as being better for overall operations, the above also shows how a lean supply chain can be better for the planet. By reducing waste, lean supply chains are well-placed to protect the environment. As this becomes ever more vital for all sectors moving ahead, it is something to consider.
It is also essential to factor in the benefits that a lean approach has for customers. Trimming the fat from your supply chain puts your products in customers’ hands faster and ensures that they are fully satisfied as a result. Lean approaches to your supply chain also mean that processes are tweaked to deliver high-quality products every time. Whether this is a podcast or the latest tech gadget, the boost that this gives to customer satisfaction is huge.
What are the negatives of not establishing a lean supply chain?
Although it is useful to look at the benefits that building a lean supply chain brings to any company, it is also worthwhile looking at the dangers of ignoring it. What drawbacks could this bring?
To begin with, it could see your supply chain failing to operate in the most efficient way and contribute to greater lead times in terms of production. Due to this, customers will have to wait longer for their orders or for new content/products to be made. Failing to implement a lean supply chain can also see higher levels of waste and inconsistency in terms of the final product.
Higher waste is bad because it is an inefficient way to operate and can also bring cost implications. Product inconsistency is also poor for business because customers do not like variations in terms of quality.
If we apply this to podcast creation, people value any podcast they regularly follow, delivering a high-quality, interesting experience each time they listen. If the podcast in question is very entertaining one week but very boring the next, people will be likely to lose interest over time.
How can you promote a lean supply chain?
One of the keys to really understanding a lean supply chain in business is knowing how best to implement it. This ensures that you can make your supply chain as efficient as possible – whatever industry you are involved with.
But how do you go about this? The first place to start is simply reviewing your current supply chain and observing how it operates. This is key because it shows you how things are really working – not how you think they work or how they should work!
During this process of observation, it is vital to note down any issues you spot or areas that you think can be improved. If the supply chain slows down in one particular part, for example, it is wise to note the details for further consideration.
Solutions are key
Once you have collected data on how your supply chain currently works, you need to take time to reflect on your findings and discover solutions. Make sure that you look at all the data you have collected and drill down into what it is telling you. With lean supply chain manufacturing in mind, it is crucial to think about any parts where wastage, inefficiencies or poor working practices are found.
After you have identified any issues, you need to think creatively about solutions that could bring positive improvements. As any changes will be in line with general lean ideas, you should also make sure that any supply chain innovations add value for the customer.
While this can be done alone if you prefer, it can be worthwhile to include other people in this who you trust. If you run your own podcast, you may well ask a co-presenter or the producer of the show for ideas.
With sensible, creative solutions in place to fix problem areas in your supply chain, the next step is to test the solutions you come up with. This can be done by implementing them for a short period of time and closely monitoring their effect. If you find that they do not have the desired impact, it is essential to tweak them until they work as intended.
Continuous supply chain improvement is key
As mentioned above, one of the five major principles of lean manufacturing is making regular, small improvements that add up over time. It is therefore vital to bear this in mind when bringing lean concepts into your own company.
Do not be tempted to make changes to how your supply chain operates and then forget all about it for the next decade! It is much better to always have lean principles in mind on a daily basis. This enables you to be constantly making small improvements and achieve larger benefits around supply chain management.
Facilitate lean thinking in your business
A good way to promote a lean manufacturing supply chain in your company is to create a culture that values it. This can be something that all firms can do – from sole traders to multinationals. If your business employs staff, then it is crucial to empower them in this area. Although you are important for making your supply chain tauter, employees also have a big impact.
This is most obviously seen through how those who physically work on a company’s supply chain can affect it. By empowering staff to not only understand but also feel passionate about working more efficiently, you should see positive results.
Facilitating a working culture that values lean ideas can also inspire staff on your supply chain to come up with new ideas to help. This could be improvements to their own working practices, which could be implemented, or innovations around how products are delivered.
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is a famous method within lean production and one that you may have heard of before. But what is it, and how can it help supply chains operate in a smoother, more efficient manner?
In its most basic sense, Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that focuses on collaborative team efforts in order to reduce waste, inefficiency and variation in finished products. As the name suggests, it is a combination of Six Sigma and lean production.
Six Sigma is itself an important technique within lean manufacturing and uses a set of tools/techniques for continuous improvement. Created by Motorola employee Bill Smith in 1986, it has since gone on to become a core approach in lean production. This approach sees Six Sigma experts using statistical modeling and empirical data collection to improve operations in certain key business areas.
What part can Lean Six Sigma play in the supply chain?
As you may imagine, the supply chain is one area where this approach can be put into practice. This is because the supply chain is a part of any business that has a massive impact on overall performance.
By partnering Six Sigma with a lean approach, companies are able to use the data collected to pinpoint where wastage occurs in the supply chain or where product variation crops up. This allows them to make positive changes that ultimately benefit customers.
What other parts of a business can lean production help with?
While the majority of this article is focused on lean concepts in terms of the supply chain, this is not the only way that it can help. Other examples where it comes in useful include:
- Customer service
- Human resources
- Sales and marketing
The above are all important parts of any company and, along with the supply chain, help to make it successful. Applying lean principles to departments such as these is, therefore, a good way to ensure that they are running efficiently and with the least amount of waste. It is key to remember that waste is not always about physical materials – it can also refer to waste in terms of how people work or the processes they use.
It is key for any business in any sector to run in the most efficient way and ensure that all parts contribute to this. By focusing their attention here, firms can keep customers happier and also cut back on waste, costs and variation in what they produce. Lean manufacturing is one of the best ways to go about this and helps organizations focus on where they can make improvements to how they operate.
While this can be applied across all departments within a business, it is often applied to the supply chain. Creating a lean supply chain delivers all of the above and enables the company to work in a much more straightforward way. While this might be mostly seen in manufacturing itself, lean supply chains can also be a real bonus across multiple other industries.