Discuss how the concept of lean operations can be applied to a service operation, referring to either a specific case, or cases, to support your argument.
In the 1950s, the Toyota Motor Company incorporate Ford production and other techniques into an approach called Toyota Production System. It also has been known as Just In Time or lean production which can provide best quality, lowest cost, and shortest lead time (Kotelnikov, n.d). Lean Production is a modern management philosophy inspired that aims to eliminate waste in the production system (Olofsson, 2009). Lean means doing more with less: less time, inventory, space, labor, and money. The ultimate goal of this methodology is to improve and speed up production by eliminating quantifiable waste as far as production is concerned (Kotelnikov, n.d). To compare with traditional approach, the lean approach is more focus on producing only when needed, so the capacity utilization will be lower and there will no more surplus production goes into inventory. It also has fewer stoppages and low inventory, so the problem can be solved quickly. So it is viewed as the production system of the 21st century. With the development of lean operation, the idea of lean not only has been used to manufacturing operations, but also the service processes. The lean operations were first used in manufacturing that is because their waste and working process can be easily found. Work flows and time lost of service operations may difficult to see. Lean operation is different between services and manufacturing environment. Lean can help services operations have highly visual tools to provide visibility to work flow, waste, work process and give a quicker way to solve the problem (Patel, 2008). In this essay, it will focus on how to use the concept of lean operations into service environment and how the lean production translated into service operations. With the growth of financial pressures in healthcare, the operational efficiency became more important than before. The essays will use a case of National Health Service (NHS) to prove the lean operations are not only applicable to service operations, but also can take more advantage to the service. There are four concepts of lean operations which defined by the professors of Harvard Business School Kent Bowen and Steven Spear. First one, the timing, outcome, content and sequence of all the working process have to be highly specified. Second, the services center must be direct to the costumers. Third, the ways for product also have to be simple and direct. Fourth, the improvements have to basic on a scientific method or guidance (El-Nadi, n.d). Although the applicability of lean operations made the ideas of high productivity and low cost used into both private and public services. It still used to be a big challenge to bring the concept to a healthcare. To the NHS in the UK, the lean operation was a totally new idea to their working process in the beginning, but the development of lean in NHS evolved quickly. Nowadays the lean operations can not only help NHS to solve the specific problem, but also to prove or redesign the case between different boundaries.
Lean operations seek to eliminate the waste in products or services and deliver them only when needed. So to find out the waste in NHS is most important. The timing waste is one kind of normal waste which uses to appear in other operations. The time lost is during waiting for people, equipment or information. In NHS, the time waste could be the patient wait for a doctor, medicines or results. The overproduction is when the products are too much or produced too early (Emmerton,1999). For example, take unnecessary tests for pathology. The over processing is to have unnecessary steps in the process. For example, the doctor asks some questions several times or retakes the information. There are might have too much work in process in NHS, such as patients waiting in a queue. The transportation...
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