Business Magazine

Achieve Lean Logistics with Built-In Quality

Posted on the 26 April 2012 by Ryderexchange

Written by Robert Arndt, Vice President of Lean Supply Chain Solutions

Ryder’s second Lean Guiding Principle is Built-In Quality. Built-In Quality means striving to prevent mistakes before they happen, and engineering processes to make them “mistake proof.”

lean built in quality

In a lean logistics operation, each supply chain process is designed to make sure that any worker can perform it perfectly the first time. Lean engineers also develop metrics to determine whether the process is meeting the requirements of customers and other stakeholders. Designers often include safeguards to prevent mistakes while work is in progress—perhaps signage to provide visual reminders, or technology that monitors whether a job is progressing correctly.

If a mistake does occur, work teams need to dig down to get at the root causes, ensuring that the error never has a chance to re-occur. If a team leader observes that an employee isn’t working up to established standards, that leader should take the employee aside immediately, explain what isn’t going right and provide instruction on how to do the work better. Leaders should also provide instant feedback when they observe employees performing their work remarkably well.

Finally, for effective built-in quality it’s vital to get everyone involved. A lean logistics operation empowers employees to spot problems and fix them. But more than that, it empowers them to investigate why the problems occurred in the first place, to make sure the mistakes never happen again. When someone spots a mistake, that should never become an occasion for blame. The goal of built-in quality is to set things right so the team can continue to do the best job possible for its customers. Then the team should celebrate the improvement.

A lean culture builds quality into every facet of its operation. With processes designed to make the work flow correctly, and tools available to eliminate small problems before they grow large, employees can focus on delivering excellent products and services that increase overall customer satisfaction.

What steps have you taken in your organization to build quality into your operations?

Learn more about Built-In Quality and Ryder’s other Lean Guiding Principles.

Watch out for the next post in the Lean Series, which will speak to Standardization.

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