Real Lean Transformation

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Lean Thinking for Laboratories

While it might sound like some sort of fad diet, “lean” in the context of business improvement refers to a specific methodology that originated in the Japanese motor industry toward the end of the 1980s. Over the decades, this lean philosophy has been successfully adopted by many companies across a broad spectrum of industries and, more recently, lean thinking has filtered into laboratories. The focus of a lean laboratory is to test samples in the most efficient way possible in terms of cost, or speed, or both. Although most of the key principles of lean apply in labs, the specific challenges facing laboratories require significant adaptation of standard lean tools. 

Can and should Lean be applied in Labs?

Lean originated in the automotive industry and it’s easy to see how the tools and concepts are a good fit for that type of manufacturing. It’s much less obvious however that Lean can and should be applied in Labs.  In recent times Lean Lab projects have become quite common but…

Is Lean really an appropriate strategy in the Lab environment or are labs just blindly following trends?

Why can't my department get ahead and be productive

In operations where the short interval (e.g. daily or weekly) workload varies, the most common method of distributing the work is to share it equally between the available people. We call this method “available work through available people”. The consequence of this approach is that even low daily workloads expand to fill the day resulting in poor productivity. Carefully designed standard work can improve your department’s performance by consistently making the most out of people’s time.

Synchronising Planning, Manufacturing & QC

Day to day operations of individual departments in life science companies rely on many decisions made outside of each department’s own remit. When embarking on a Lean strategy, the pillars of operational excellence (Levelling and Flow) can be supported by increasing awareness of how each department functions and explaining constraints.

Lean Organisation for Lean Programmes

You’re a site leader three months into your Lean Programme and on the face of it things are going well but you’ve got doubts that the organisation structure is supporting your lean journey in the way you’d want.

Waste in Laboratories

Laboratories are not the same as manufacturing environments so do the standard Lean ‘Wastes’ even apply in Labs?

Optimising QC Lab Testing

QC test methods and the overall testing approach employed in laboratories can themselves be inherently wasteful. What steps should be taken to identify and eliminate such waste?

Why are Lab SOPs and Work Instruction so Bad?

Typically, laboratory Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions are wordy, patch-worked documents and a hindrance to testing analysts and reviewers alike. Over their life cycle, procedures usually become increasingly difficult to decipher due to multiple disjointed revisions. As a result, training and routine testing often relies on the retained knowledge of key experienced personnel, with an accepted culture of ‘Chinese whispers’. This dependence on undocumented hints and reminders can be tackled by applying Lean thinking to the design and layout of Laboratory SOP’s.  

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