Lean manufacturing has been beneficial in providing value to the products being provided to customers. There are times though, when you will find that for some reason, the Lean manufactured product does not have the expected impact or customer satisfaction levels.
This is because in spite of the Lean manufacturing process, products may not reach the customer on time, or as per the order placed; there may also be some issues or problems that come up, which may not have been sorted out in spite of repeated requests. In such a scenario, manufacturing is not the problem area – but the distribution of the products is.
No clear ownership and handoffs: When we are talking about distribution, it involves everything from packaging to handing it over to the customers on a promised day.
The problem of dissatisfaction arises when the manufactured product is not packed properly, a defective product is packed, the warranty support is not sufficient or not provided entirely or the product is not delivered on the promised date.
In such a case, it is clear that the distribution system faces the problem of absence of clear ownership of the processes at various levels. There are also times when the customer may have given the feedback to their contact point, which may be a dealer or distributor.
But, if that has not been communicated to the manufacturing department, then the improvements would not be brought in – which in turn means further customer dissatisfaction.
Lean Six Sigma in the Distribution System
Relationships Between Manufacturers and Dealers
Lean Six Sigma aims in enhancing the relationship that exists between manufacturer and dealer, which becomes important to provide value services to the customer.
The trust and the cooperation between them lead to smoother deployments and the use of the different channels for distribution to the maximum, to provide the customer with products according to their requirements.
Lean aligns the activities of the different distribution channels as well as the manufacturing processes, so that they become efficient and effective and provide value services to the customer.
The value is as seen by the customer and Lean Six Sigma initiatives aim at coordinating the activities from manufacturing to distribution with an aim to achieve value as specified by customers.
Mapping Value Streams Across Boundaries
Value creation and delivery according to customer requirements require the coordination and collaboration of all parties involved in the process of providing value products to the customers.
Through the active participation of all the members of the distribution chain, the Lean system can be developed, which can prove to be beneficial for all. The voice of the customers can reach the destined place if all the channels are Lean and ensuring that their aim is to provide value services and products to customers.
The Lean distribution system will help in bringing about such changes in the system, which will provide a competitive edge to the value provision of the organization.
The proper metrics for measuring the progress and implementation of Lean processes in the distribution channel will help in providing the planned value to the customer – and any variations and drawbacks will be corrected.
Lean Six Sigma cannot be restricted to just the shop floor. Manufacturers should recognize and bring in a Lean system, which will include the distribution systems as well and provide value to customers.