Today’s rapidly evolving manufacturing environment renders it essential for industrialists to adopt novel approaches to remain economically relevant. Concepts such as Continuous Improvement (CI), lean and efficient manufacturing are being implemented on a global scale. Sub-Saharan African manufacturers are similarly urged to execute such methodologies to gain a competitive edge from both a local and global perspective. The benefits of executing such strategies extend from improvements in product design and quality, increased responsiveness to customer demands, reduced lead and process time, reduced waste, downtime and staff turnover, more streamlined supplier and customer relationships, expanding production capabilities, and promoting sustainability.
Continuous Improvement, otherwise known as lean manufacturing, is the ongoing bid to improve an entity’s manufacturing processes, products or services, minimising manufacturing system waste while maximising efficiency, productivity and profits.
- The aforementioned performance-improvement programmes require a balanced approach between core business components. In this regard, how can manufacturers integrate their operating systems, management infrastructure, mindsets and capabilities to maximise on these performance-improvement initiatives?
- Since its inception, lean manufacturing has evolved to accommodate individual business climates, process requirements as well as unique cultural aspects, social conditions and scope of implementation. How can principles of lean practices be redefined and applied within a Sub-Saharan African context?
- What new business opportunities exist for Sub-Saharan African manufacturers on successful implementation of the abovementioned performance-improvement programmes?
- The role of knowledge is considered to be a causal factor in the successful implementation of lean, especially in organisations with limited resources like SMMEs where there is generally a small compliment of staff. How should management through leadership knowledge motivate towards lean implementation while acknowledging the importance of the human component within the lean approach?