What Is a Pull System in Lean Management?
Organizational development professionals are often called upon to perform audits of various processes. These experts are looking for ways to improve efficiencies among common production areas. Lean production and management systems offer a variety of methods for improving manufacturing and production processes. One such method is called a pull system. A pull system is commonly used to eliminate waste and improve operations from the production line to the top-tier management styles.
A pull system places heavy emphasis on waste elimination. Conserving resources is a significant focus in a pull system. With this method, each station is established to run at full capacity without producing unnecessary overage. Production begins according to customer or sales demand, and human resources are skilled and cross-trained to operate equipment efficiently.
A visual workflow is the easiest way to control the pull system environment. Colorful cards, vision boards, and other stimuli are often used to signal needs. Virtual or visual signals ensure that the next station understands that an order or new project is coming their way. These tangible cues also help the previous department or station rate their progress.
Adapts to Changes
Although a push system also makes concessions for unexpected changes, a pull system effectively plans for change. At first glance, a pull system is considered reactive because it appears to wait for signals before beginning a production line. In reality, however, a pull system is very responsive to change. Because each area of specialization is operating at peak efficiency, users and equipment along the supply chain can quickly adapt to an unexpected request or challenge.
The very concept of lean management was derived to optimize resources. Whether those resources come in the form of machinery or a team of individuals playing different roles, resources must be effectively managed. Whether by a person or a machine, the amount of work completed each day is calculated and reviewed. These measurements are used to determine where changes are needed within the system.
Essentially, whatever can be measured can be managed. The pull system component of lean management helps business owners recognize and improve areas of low efficiency.
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