lean management at the office

What is Lean Management Engineering?

Lorenzo Del Marmol

May 21, 2018

Lean management engineering is a concept to boost the efficiency of various engineering segments within manufacturing enterprises. It is a consistent process that helps increase the levels of valid engineering data developed compared to the dollar investment.

The entire process entails a straightforward review of the current condition, coupled by several adjustments to handle inefficiencies each time. Every single step is carefully planned and justified before any changes are made. This particular rinse and repeat strategy works to obtain the confidence of its personnel and members from the management to the shop worker.

Will lean engineering work for you?

Ever wonder if lean engineering will work for you? Ask yourself these questions to help you assess whether or not lean engineering will work for you:

  • Does your company’s engineering intelligence go out every single day at around 5 to 6 pm?
  • Does your output level impact the production output level of your enterprise?
  • Does the quality of engineering get output delayed by due dates and workload?
  • Does the adoption of brand new design technology hinder processes that are beyond engineering’s control?

The initial step in the lean engineering process is to obtain an honest assessment of the present condition within the department. This includes defining engineering’s role within the enterprise, zeroing in on the resources as well as the dynamics that make up the whole of engineering.

Defining who is the customer

One of the ideas taken from lean manufacturing is to know value based on the customer’s perception. Lean engineering identifies engineering’s end customer. This is important in ascertaining the value of tasks performed and the deliverables to be developed. Engineering departments have a couple of customers and they define the entire enterprise for the engineering department.

In most instances, engineering’s customer is another department within the organization. This forces a cross-departmental valuation of output and data, instead of a measurement solely based on a monetary unit. The usual cost and value considerations are in the number of personnel required, the amount of resources used as well as the time required to produce a product, or the amount of time saved with a process.

Outside of the enterprise, these values can be based on financial valuations. Money is used as a unit of measurement between companies because the processes are different between one company and another, or between different kinds of businesses. The only common denominator is financial currency.

What exactly does engineering create?

After defining engineering’s customer, we have to take a good look at what the department is capable of producing. Engineering deliverables are often comprised of bills of materials, specification data, technical drawings and others. This is business intelligence, coupled with the possibly proprietary business operating system.

This term defines the unique manner which a company manages its business. It is an abstract concept which can be codified in terms of standards and operating procedures. Within the context of a company’s culture, engineering provides information, data and processes for the organization.

Before any developments can be instituted, it is vital to understand what needs to be improved. To improve engineering output production, there is a need to measure that output. This process is reiterated for the enterprise level instead of the department level. This can be tricky, as all measurable outputs like jobs, estimates, drawings and more do not have the exact same value or unit of measurement. As discussed above, it is vital in a lean process to determine the value from the client’s perspective. Usually, engineering’s clients are all internal customers.

Last but not the least, lean engineering requires the assessment of output in some form of engineering intelligence to the end that it results in an increased output. Time as a resource may be ignored in the equation. Although time is precious, it is one factor that we all share with competitors, where both have the same amount of time to work with.

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