Those goals can sound simple—almost too simple like they’re nothing more than common sense. In a way, that is true. You can think of lean methodologies as “advanced common sense” for businesses and other large organizations.
Lean ideas are straightforward. The challenge is execution. Lean companies need to stick with that way of doing business, with the right tools, across their organization. That requires trusted systems and tools.
One tool many organizations would benefit from including in their lean practice is a smart equipment management system. This article explores how equipment management can improve your lean performance. It also offers one example of a Real Time Networks enterprise customer who transformed how its shipping and logistics teams operated thanks to an AssetTracer equipment management system.
How Lean Can Benefit Any Organization
Many people know that lean thinking originated in the manufacturing sector, specifically at Toyota. And while lean has a lot to offer manufacturing businesses, the core principles are well-suited to improve any company.
Lean isn’t about building a better widget when you boil it down. Instead, it is about process control—improving the reliability, efficiency, and value of your organization's processes.
Lean methodologies are not a quick fix to hit monthly or quarterly KPIs. Proper implementation requires a strategic, longer-term perspective on what is best for a business and its customers.
What are Smart Equipment Lockers?
A regular storage locker has one job: secure equipment. It doesn’t need to do more or less. That may seem like an efficient function, but the evolution of “smart technology” has changed that perception in the last several decades.
Smart technology is traditional business equipment embedded with a computer monitoring system. These systems track when equipment is taken or returned and even how it is used. A smart equipment management system can automate all of these time-consuming tasks. In addition, the systems are so adaptable that they enable new processes and management activities that support lean business functions.
Several core components are needed to make a locker system “smart.”
How Better Equipment Management Supports Lean
At a high level, process control is what an equipment management system does best to support lean thinking. But the details matter here. Better equipment management supports lean businesses in five specific ways.
Use Case: Trustworthy Warehouse Scanner Tracking
Let’s consider an example. Real Time Networks worked with an enterprise customer in the clothing business. They manufactured and shipped their products internationally and had some of the busiest warehouses in North America.
Their workers used handheld scanners to inventory and track the different materials and pallets passing through their warehouses. Rows upon rows of scanners were lined up next to warehouse timeclocks. An employee would punch in, grab a scanner, hope it was in working order, and try to go about their day without the scanner erroring out or running out of power.
Trust the System and Lean Thinking Will Work
This company knew they couldn’t just dump technology on their staff and hope it worked. So instead, they took a lean approach to their process improvement and systematically addressed a problem in their organization. They aimed to reduce waste, decrease variance in how their people used company equipment and made the equipment transaction process transparent and automatic.
It made everyone’s lives easier and saved the company money. That took a solid foundation of trust.
Want to find out if a smart equipment management system can improve your company’s lean performance?
About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.