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Many of the most successful operators in this competitive market are supported by an effective Lean operating system, backed up by focused visual management, and we are currently seeing a hugely increased realisation of the power of Lean in the retail sector. Companies such as Amazon, Zara and Home Bargains are all devoting large amounts of resources exclusively to developing their Lean programmes.
Positively, there is possibly no other sector where the opportunities for Lean benefits are so many and so varying, from simple 5S to bring efficiency and remove waste from the warehousing and logistics processes, to the use of visual management boards for tracking Continuous Improvement initiatives in HR departments (which we are currently working on with Sainsburys), to KPI boards for visually checking the overall daily performance of the business, the opportunities are infinite. Home Bargains are on an express mission to use visual management to help them save £10 per store per day, equaling £1.6 million per year … a calculated figure which we believe is very do-able!
Where manufacturing and retailing meet! Lean is at the heart of the large retail chains’ success, with standardised work, one piece flow, Kanban and Obeyaka (lean layout) all essential components of their success. How else could you buy a Big Mac in New Zealand or New Jersey with assurance that he product will be the same? The process is largely controlled by visual management, from the clear layout of the menu to the boards controlling the production of the goods and without visual management, it could not work.
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