Find a Lean Manufacturing Consultant
Why do you need to Find a Lean Manufacturing Consultant?
If you want to avail yourself of the benefits of lean manufacturing, then you need to find the best way of implementing lean, the easiest and most efficient way is to find a lean manufacturing consultant to aid you in your mission. A lean consultant will bring with him the necessary skills and experience to implement a lean process within your organization. Business improvement is necessary for you to continue to compete and remain profitable.
Lean Manufacturing is both a philosophy and a collection of tools, there are many lean tools and it is unlikely that anyone within your organization has a full grasp of these tools as well as the philosophy behind it, therefore you need to bring in either a very experienced employee or a consultant. In my mind the lean consultant is the best choice as he will be totally dedicated to the principles of business improvement through lean and will not be influenced by other day to day factors within the business, nor any internal politics. But first you need to find a lean manufacturing consultant.
Lean manufacturing Consulting
What is Lean
Lean as I have already said is both a philosophy and a collection of tools, most people think of lean as being about becoming efficient by reducing waste in your production processes, however this is not the main aim. What is lean manufacturing? It is more about defining value as required by the customer and then making that value flow at the pull of the customer without it being delayed or held in inventory (Just in Time or JIT). It is also about employee involvement and respect, and a continual drive for improvement.
Lean is about preventing waste from occurring by creating efficient flow at the pull of the customer, purely focusing on waste reduction generally fails to give you the full benefits of lean and often leads to changes that are not sustainable and often processes that are inflexible.
The history of lean manufacturing is a very long one, most people attributing the true rise of lean as being due to the automotive giant Toyota and the Toyota Production System (TPS).
Finding a Lean Manufacturing Consultant
The following sections will give you advice on how to search for a lean manufacturing consultant to help you in your mission to improve your business through implementing lean.
Find a Lean Manufacturing Consultant using the Internet
In today’s information age it is very easy to set yourself up a website to advertise your business and your services, however when you search for these businesses it can be surprisingly hard to find them! Many businesses forget that they are a business in a specific area and they fail to set their websites up in a way that their potential customers can find them. How many people do you know that have business websites that are named after the business, and often their own name, this means that unless you are searching for their specific name you will not find them! This makes your internet search to find a lean manufacturing consultants more difficult.
In general, search for “lean Consultant” or “Business Consultant” and add your specific city, state or area so that the search will return any local consultants to you. A general search for lean consultant is likely to return the big name consultancies who have the biggest web presence, and of course the most expensive (but maybe the better) services.
It is also worth searching for a “business directory” local to your self, or specific to your industry. You may find lean consultants listed within these directories whom you can contact.
Benefits of Finding a Lean Consultant
Using Trade Publications to Find a Lean manufacturing Consultant
Most industries have trade magazines which are posted to you on a regular basis, often uninvited, these often have a number of consultancies advertising and other useful contacts. In addition to trade publications, there are often local trade publications about local businesses again with many consultants and the like advertising.
These trade and industrial publications are often also often available online also.
Using Business Support service to Find a Lean Manufacturing Consultant
Contact local business support services run by the local government, or even your bank and ask if they can recommend anyone to help you find a lean manufacturing consultant. These agencies tend to be contacted by consultants looking for clients as well as hearing about the various consultants out there from their clients. This is often a good way to find a consultant with a good local reputation.
Local Universities and Technical Colleges
Again a good source of potential recommendations for active local lean manufacturing consultants in much the same way that the local business support agencies can help you. In addition to this if they have their own management or industry programs you may even be able to avail yourself of free help and support in some areas as many often need projects for their students!
Networking to Find a Lean Consultant
Yet another source of recommendations for local consultants, if you or members of your staff are members of local business networking groups, chambers of commerce and so on, these can be a valuable resource for finding many contacts locally.
Find lean manufactturing consultants to implement lean tools
Funding your Lean Manufacturing Consultants Project
A lean manufacturing consultant, whether from one of the big consultancies or a local sole trader will not be cheap to hire, often costing thousands of Dollars/Euros/Pounds per day depending on their experience and reputation. However any good consultant should return your investment at least ten fold. See “Hire a lean consultant” for more information as to how you should specify the improvement project, hire and monitor the performance of your consultant as every project proposal should include the likely payback from the project.
If you are a small company then it may be very difficult for you to afford to pay your lean consultant up front, there are a couple of options that you can try;
If you are looking at a “local” lean manufacturing consultant that appears to be a good fit with your organization but lacks a provable track record then it may be possible to employ him on a “subsistence” wage with bonus payments if he achieves agreed targets. This means you don’t have to pay until you see the benefits and he is motivated to achieve the targets as he will not get paid unless he does. It will also deter him from taking the job if he is not confident that he can do it!
However be fair, ensure that targets are defined fully and that they are measurable and achievable (see hire a lean consultant for more details about measures and objectives). If he falls short due to a failure on your companies part then you should still compensate him at least in part for what he has achieved. (On a note here, I did work for a company in the UK for a week to implement 5S / 5C, whilst I was there I noticed a “bottleneck” operation that was causing them major delivery failures and was jeopardizing future orders, using smed principles I doubled the output from the process one afternoon, the company doubled my payment for the work done as a “thank you”.)
Another option is to look for outside support and grants, there are often many grants that are available that can be used to pay for consultancy. Often these are environmentally focused, however you can write your proposal in such a way that you will saving energy and resources by making things more efficient. A little thought and you can twist what you are doing to fit the grants available. Always talk to them before you go to the trouble of completing the application to ensure that you qualify, and the personal relationship bit will also help big time later!
With grants you will also find that the bodies that administer them are very keen to give the money away, if they fail to give away their budget the budget may end up being reduced the following year! So as long as you fill out all the required paperwork and provide exactly what they ask for in the correct format (some times quite a lot of useless bureaucratic rubbish I am afraid) you will almost certainly get your grant, even if your project is barely within the criteria. You may also find that you get a quicker response close to the end of the financial year and even additional funding as they try to get rid of their money extra quick! Conversely they can be slow to react at the start of the year, as they are very optimistic that this year everyone will want to apply!
Find your Lean Manufacturing Consultants
Finding a lean manufacturing consultant
Find a lean consultant links
The following are useful links for business support and lean manufacturing resources.
http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/ Institute for Manufacturing
http://www.thecqi.org/ Chartered Quality Institute
http://asq.org/ American Society of Quality
http://www.nam.org/ American National Association of Manufacturers
http://www.bis.gov.uk/ UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills
http://trade.gov/ International Trade Administration USA
http://www.mas.bis.gov.uk/ UK Manufacturing Advisory Service
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/home UK Business Link
http://www.business.gov/ US Business Link
http://www.smmt.co.uk Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
http://www.aiag.org/scriptcontent/index.cfm Automotive Industry Action Group
These Links will help you to find more information regarding finding a lean manufacturing consultant to help you improve your business by implementing lean manufacturing.