Lean Line Design – Product Grouping

So you want to “be Lean” but not really sure what that means? There are two parts to the “being Lean.”

1) The physical changes like line design (20%)
2) The culture of you company (80%)

I’ve talked at length about cultural importance and how to change your companies culture (previous articles about Lean culture). Every company that I’ve worked with always wants to tackle the physical changes associated with Lean. The first step with the line design process that I’ll take with a company is to make sure the product groupings are aligned by customer and customer needs.

In a manufacturing plant the products are usually grouped by model numbers. Model A is grouped differently than Model B but the only difference is that Model B has new parts. I worked with a computer manufacturer who would organize their products this way.

If you want to group products a little more intelligently than by much numbers then you have to do some comparisons. Here is an example chart of how we did the comparisons with the computer company: