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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Making Lean Work - A Holistic Approach Brings Sustainable Benefits

Lean production has become the latest panacea for how manufacturers are to transform themselves into world class operations. But if it is so easy, why isn't the whole of the pharmaceutical industry already using lean techniques? After all, the theories and principles of lean production are simple and sensible, so what is stopping manufacturers using them effectively to optimise performance?

Lean thinking essentially strives to meet customer requirements by constantly attacking the three enemies: waste, variability and inflexibility. Waste is any activity that adds cost but no value (that is, customers would not pay for it if they were aware of it happening). Variability is any deviation from standard in a process or its inputs, such as materials, people or equipment. Inflexibility is the cost of meeting customer requirements - such as quantity, specification and time - where the production system fails to do so (minimum order size, fixed delivery lead time).

The business benefits of lean production cannot be ignored, and indeed are increasingly well documented. There are many examples of companies which have adopted lean techniques and benefited from improved productivity, less waste or shorter lead times. But, in many cases, these improvements have either not been sustained or have not led on to further improvements, giving rise to some dissatisfaction with lean production in certain quarters of the industry.


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By Blair McCallum, Head of McKinsey & Company's
Production System Design Centre (PSDC) Blair McCallum is the Head of McKinsey & Company's Production System Design Centre (PSDC). He has spent most of his working life within the automotive industry, mainly for Toyota and Rover. At Toyota he was part of the team which developed the European supplier base, which involved a responsibility for Toyota Production System training throughout Europe.
In 1995 Blair moved to Rover Group as Senior Manager responsible for creating a lean consulting team for the supplier base and subsequently became General Manager and was responsible for the supplier base and its five main manufacturing plants, and was tasked with introducing lean manufacturing principles into new products. He joined the PSDC in August 1998.

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Blair McCallum
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