What is Lean Management and how can it optimize your rental business?


Running a rental business in today’s “unprecedented” times is more complex than ever, and that means waste and inefficiencies may have crept into your operation without your knowledge.

In the State of the industry 2021 report in RentJosh Nickell, vice president of equipment segment for the American Rental Association, noted the effect of rapid change on the industry: “As an industry we have seen that things that could be on a sheet 10-year road trips have become priorities for 2020. ”The need to constantly adapt to change can be difficult, but one way to make things easier for your business is to use a framework like Toyota Lean Management (TLM).

What is Lean Management?

So, what exactly is Lean Management? In its simplest form, lean management is all about eliminating waste without sacrificing productivity to improve work processes, goals, stakeholder value and results. This is done in three ways: bringing value from your customer’s point of view, eliminating things that do not add value to the end product (i.e. waste) and continuously improving.

The fundamental pillars of the Lean Management methodology are respect for people and continuous improvement. The whole concept of lean management is derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), established over 70 years ago.

Now TLM is focused on eliminating waste by implementing all elements of the TPS Lean methodology, which can be applied to any industry. Therefore, it is not just for manufacturers; these principles can be applied in any area of ​​your rental business.

If you are not familiar with lean management, you may be wondering, “How do I start my own lean management journey?” ” Let’s talk about it.

The 5S system

The basis of lean management is the 5 “S” system. It is a method of workplace organization that describes how to organize a workplace or business for efficiency and effectiveness. In its entirety, it is a framework that emphasizes a specific mindset and tools to achieve a goal.

0001The 5S process was invented and made popular by Toyota and is based on five disciplines starting with the letter “S”. These are, in Japanese, Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Put in order or systematize), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (normalize), and Shitsuke (Support or self-discipline).

To go deeper :

  • Sort: Sort materials, keeping only the essentials needed to complete the tasks.
  • Place in Order: Make sure all items are organized and have a designated place.
  • Shine: Proactive efforts to keep work areas neat and tidy to ensure goal-oriented work. This could be the maintenance of the equipment or the dusting / cleaning of the office.
  • Standardize: Create a list of standards for the organization and processes.
  • Maintain: Maintain new practices and perform audits to maintain discipline.

Overall, the five disciplines are designed to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and create collaboration in workflow, processes, time, and more. The 5S system can be explored in depth in this video created by Toyota Material Handling.

Visual management

As mentioned earlier, a key part of Toyota Lean Management is respect and empowerment of people. Your employees are at the heart of the success of your company’s Lean Management. They are the ones who inspire change, produce solutions and work to reduce waste. If a company doesn’t believe in the value of its employees and support them in this mission, then the processes that tie everything together will break down.

How can you make sure all of your employees understand your business goals? Visual management practice is an important part in creating a shared vision. This means that instead of just telling the goal to associates, you need to convey that goal in a way that is traceable andmay be seen.

Therefore, be sure to work on things that you can see at the start of your lean journey. If you see the change, you can begin to understand the impact it is having. At Toyota Material Handling, we use problems and problem solving as powerful opportunities for learning and improving performance. To do this, you must first make the invisible issues visible. Start with something simple that could have a noticeable impact on you or your business, like your office or workspace.

Another method of implementing visual management can be as simple as displaying charts showing business goals and updating them when you are behind or ahead of schedule. And don’t forget: make sure they are visible toall employees. Then, establish a team review cadence and decide next steps as a team, creating alignment and speed towards improvement.

PDCA cycle

Once you have identified visible problems, you can schedule the countermeasures to remedy the problems. With a countermeasure in place, you have to also decide in advance how you will watch and check his Implementation. Know who will follow up and when is crucial in the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA).

Just as a circle has no end, the PDCA cycle must be repeated over and over again, as it ensure that countermeasures are properly implemented. If the execution of the countermeasure is appropriate but the results are not where you need them, adjust along the way and restart the PDCA cycle.

And above all, if you are a manager, train yourself Genchi Genbutsu – ” Go see. You can’t be an effective Lean Manager if you never leave your desk. You need to go see how your team is working and where they need help.

Never stop improving

While this may all seem like a small start, getting into the habit of practicing the 5S process, visual management, and the PDCA cycle can be helpful as you move into bigger, more impactful projects.

One thing to keep in mind is that your Lean journey will never be “complete”. There will always be something in your rental business that you can improve or adjust to eliminate waste. A cornerstone of your Lean journey will be kaizen, which means “continuous improvement”. At Toyota Material Handling, kaizen is practiced daily in team meetings, in maintenance stores, in the factory – wherever people and processes are at work. This is especially true now because, if the pandemic has taught us anything, heis that adaptation is the key to business survival and success.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at how normalizationSeiketsu in the 5S processcan be applied in your business to improve efficiency, productivity and results.

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