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The Lean Supply Chain

Lean and Fit

As is typical this time of year, many people made the New Year’s resolution to lose a little weight. That’s why I couldn’t help but notice a recent study that countered this argument stating that a little extra weight is actually good for you (“Being overweight may protect against premature death, study suggests”).

From what I’ve heard and read about the study, one of the reasons they came to this conclusion was that many of those who were thin in the study, were sick or dying as “experts questioned the study's methodology, noting some of thin people included may have had serious diseases that took away their weight, such as cancer, or have been smokers.” I guess that shows that as the saying goes, sometimes “figures lie and liars figure”!

So how does this relate to your supply chain? Well, if your supply chain has a lot of fat and is unresponsive or slow, you need to do a diagnostic just like you would go to a doctor for a checkup if you felt the same way.

A great tool for this is a Value Stream Map (VSM). Unlike a typical Process Flow Map, a VSM identifies and quantifies the value added and non-value added activities in a value stream for a product or family of products or services. It enables you to quantify the waste or “fat” in your processes and helps in prioritizing improvement projects.

So with that in mind, maybe it would be a good New Year’s “business” resolution to trim the fat in your supply chain!

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