Hiring a lean manufacturing consultant isn’t an easy task. “Consultants” are often viewed as “armchair quarterbacks”; having strong opinions about every play made yet having little or no skin in the game to actually affect the outcome. But if you’re serious about making the shift to lean manufacturing, you will need a partner and one who will not only offer up solid ideas but will help to implement them in a way that makes sense for your team, your processes, and your facility. Here are a few questions to ask a lean manufacturing consultant before hiring, so you know you’re getting the very best possible service:
How Will Your Service Improve My Company?
Any quality lean manufacturing consultant should be able to tell you, in no uncertain terms, what their service is going to do to improve your company. If you’re not sure what direct benefits you’re going to see from this initiative, ask for a case study or for some examples of work they’ve done for previous clients.
A true lean manufacturing installer will be able to recognize the potential improved future state of your business and demonstrate how their approach has provided tangible benefits for clients in the past, and how they can offer those same benefits to your company. Geolean USA does that.
What Is Your Lean Manufacturing Approach For My Facility?
A great lean manufacturing consultant knows that no two facilities are exactly alike. While the methodologies of lean are consistent, the applied solutions are unique to every facility. The company you’re talking to should recognize that and have a unique plan for your facility.
If you’re at the point where you’re getting ready to hire, you should be speaking with someone who understands the challenges your facility is facing and should be familiar with your factory floor. With that information, they can provide you with a clear outline of where to start, how to improve your processes, and what measurable benefits will be realized. Geolean USA does that.
Will You Help Me Implement These Lean Manufacturing Solutions?
As alluded to at the beginning of this article, it’s one thing to draw up an outline and a set of steps you should follow on your lean journey. It’s another to actually work with your team to implement lean manufacturing solutions in a way that is productive and helpful. Your team isn’t going to get lean manufacturing right off the bat. That’s okay. That’s why you’re hiring a lean manufacturing consultant — to walk you through the process and get your team on their way to embracing the culture of lean.
Your lean manufacturing support should absolutely answer yes to this question and should identify the ways in which they will help you implement their suggested solutions. To combine lean manufacturing training for your team with physical progress on your shop floor, they should be clear about the steps they’ll take to help your team get started with lean. Geolean USA does that.
Where Do You Do Your Lean Manufacturing Training?
It’s great to have classroom training sessions that involve your entire team, but classroom learning can only go so far. True lean manufacturing consultants will offer training in the form of action on your shop floor. That is the best way for your team to visualize the new processes and solutions being proposed and then also buy into them as they personally benefit from the improvements. When you’re considering hiring, make sure you’re talking to a team who is willing to educate your team while concurrently affecting change on your shop floor. Geolean USA does that.
What Tools and Products Can You Help Me Implement?
The answer to this question can be tricky. You want a lean manufacturing consultant who can offer you the right lean products and tools for your facility, but you don’t want someone who’s just trying to upsell you on the most expensive products. You’ll be able to tell where priorities are by the answers offered to this question.
The right partner will remain solution agnostic, looking to integrate only the right systems that can evolve with the changes in your facility. Tools like customizable flow racks and modular workstations allow you to remain flexible and experience immediate efficiency benefits to help justify (fund) future investments like mother-daughter cart delivery with tuggers.
If, on the other hand, it feels like they’re just selling you their list of products, with no plan for them, then you might want to dig a little deeper. Lean manufacturing is easier to implement when you have the right tools, but the primary focus should be on how material flows throughout your facility. Any proposed tools and products should function as a support to that material flow. They shouldn’t be the first priority.
How Can You Help Me Communicate the Importance of Lean to My Team?
One of the most difficult aspects of implementing a lean methodology into a facility that’s unfamiliar with lean is getting the whole team on board. Committing to lean manufacturing takes work upfront, and it can be difficult to communicate the long-term benefits to a team who feels like they already have enough to do.
The best way to minimize friction during the transition is to effectively communicate the importance of lean to your team and to have a lean manufacturing partner who can help demonstrate how to do that. A lean manufacturing consultant who is willing to work with your team directly, on the factory floor, and listen to their concerns and challenges will go a long way in helping to make that transition as smooth as
If you’re looking for a true partner on your facility’s journey to continuous improvement and lean manufacturing, get in touch with the team at Geolean USA. We consider ourselves lean manufacturing partners. Integration experts, not consultants. We’re here to work with you on the shop floor to determine which lean manufacturing solutions will best contribute to the overall efficiency and profitability of your facility.