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Looking across your manufacturing Supply Chain

When looking to implement a Lean enterprise philosophy across your company, it doesn’t take long with the planning and data collection phase to realise that your everyday success depends on how you interact with your supply chain. On the down-stream side of your supply chain, your suppliers will influence how you go about planning and manufacturing your products. On the up-stream side, your customer orders and variations will influence how successful your production planning is. Here we will look at a few tips to help get your supply chain aligned and ready for your lean transformation.


Understanding your customers needs is an essential part of developing your value stream map. This needs to be done internally, with those that deal with customer information, and going to the actual customers and asking questions.

Point to cover include;

– what is your forecasting range

– how accurate is your forecast

– what is your order lead-time

– how much will these orders vary each month

– what is your expected deliver lead time

– how well we meeting this lead time

– when you receive your order, is the packaging lots / orientation suit your process

Discussing these points with your customer will determine their expectations regarding placing orders and receive. Having reliable orders will help you in your planning, which will improve your efficiencies. By understanding your customers needs, you may also be able to negate a saving with both parties winning.


By examining your relationship with your customer, you are in a position to reflect on how you are behaving as a customer towards your suppliers. The above points can be used again from your suppliers point of view. Moving towards implementing a lean enterprise, you need to balance having material on hand when you need it, compared with minimising the amount of inventory you hold, which ties up money from your cash-flow. Working with your suppliers will help you make sound decisions to balance this two aspects.

Implementing a Lean enterprise philosophy to your supply chain also requires a continuous improvement relationship with both your suppliers and customers so that the robustness of your production system is maintained as customer orders change.