The terms “Lean Management” and “Lean Manufacturing” were introduced in the 1990's in the automotive industry. Now “Lean Laboratory” is being implemented in many industries, with the aim of eliminating mistakes, reducing delays, lowering costs and improving the quality of a product or service.
Lean laboratory is a way of thinking — not simply a list of things to do. Lean principles can deliver significant improvements in the laboratory, such as: simplified processes; reduced lead times; increased lab productivity; higher quality; and improved efficiency.
A lean laboratory is one which is focused on delivering results in the most efficient way — in terms of cost and speed — with the most efficient use of resources. The ultimate goal is to improve the economic efficiency of an organization. This can be achieved by analysing and optimizing each process or workflow. Lean laboratory looks at the value-added steps in each process, and then seeks to eliminate any time-wasting or unnecessary steps.
Specific aspects of the Lean Laboratory approach are covered, including housekeeping and 5S, value stream mapping for process analysis, and eliminating waste according to the acronym “Downtime” (defects, over-production, waiting time, not engaging all employees, transportation, inventory, motion, and excess processing).
To learn more about the principles of Lean Laboratory and how to apply them to either an existing lab or the design of a new lab, the Mettler Toledo Laboratory Expertise Library has developed the “Lean Laboratory” compendium, which includes a series of free resources on Lean Laboratory topics. Tools such as guides, checklists, webinars, videos and articles are provided.
The Laboratory Expertise Library itself is a collaborative space which offers a wealth of free information and advice on a range of critical laboratory issues.
The topics are carefully selected to focus on the daily concerns of laboratory managers and personnel, and include issues such as electrostatic effects on weighing, regulatory compliance, calibration, and sample preparation. In-depth knowledge and expert advice is shared in a helpful and easily accessible format, with basic introductory or advanced information available. New topics are added regularly.