The Applications of Lean in Supply Chain Logistics

If I were to use one word to describe Paul Myerson’s new book, "Lean Supply Chain and Logistics management", that word would be "comprehensive". In this book, Paul Myerson presents deep research on the applications of lean in supply chain logistics. He lays out in an orderly progression that follows the evolution of lean from inception to the present and then forecasts how it will continue to evolve to meet future trends in industry.

In an interview with Paul Myerson, we discussed how the results of Lean are often best suited for companies that embrace long term strategies. Even so, substantial gains can still be achieved in the short run. Myerson said his goal was to help logistics managers and other professionals who are responsible for implementing Lean in their companies to achieve these gains.

The biggest challenges these people face, in his experience, is a lack of management buy in. According to Mr. Myerson, 50-70% of the battle is won in promoting the "cultural shift." Not only must top management be committed, but Lean champions, Lean coordinators and Subject Matter Experts are also needed in the fight. Above all, continuous training at all levels is vital to cultivate the team approach.

With this goal in mind, Paul has crafted a series of tools that help the supply chain professional achieve their goal, such as:

  • Case studies that showcase successful implementations
  • Visual Job Aids to standardize task procedures, especially in areas that use a large number of temporary workers or third party logistics

  • Explanations and screen shots of available software solutions

  • Slide decks that will help in Lean training for the uninitiated..."

Myerson provides the reader numerous case studies and citations drawn from real world experiences. The author combines his experience in logistics, consulting, and higher education to anticipate many of the questions a supply chain manager might have. If you are a logistics manager or engineer at any level, you will find useful practices ready to implement. And if you are responsible for implementing Lean in your company, you will find an added bonus is the slides available through McGraw Hill that you can use to train others in these principles.

Starting with the history of Lean, the author takes us to its beginnings in the manufacturing environment. He explains how the more qualitative approach of Lean merged with the more quantitative methodology of Six Sigma to create Lean Six Sigma or Lean Sigma. Myerson discusses some of the powerful outcomes Lean Six Sigma has reaped in the manufacturing arena. He also has some cautionary tales, pointing out the risks of poor implementation when extending Lean or Lean Six Sigma outside the manufacturing "4 walls." The book follows that topic through the office into supply chain and logistics management. There are a number of chapters of particular importance, including Metrics and Measurement, and Lean and Technology. According to the author fewer than 10% of senior executives surveyed believed they were adequately tracking supply chain performance. In addition to addressing this shortfall, Myerson benchmarks the plethora of technological products available designed to improve communications, collaboration, and visibility during implementation and operation of the Lean Manufacturing environment. Of course, a comprehensive examination of implementing Lean in supply chain management would not be complete without attention devoted to the working tools. The author succeeds here as well, identifying wastes, and presenting basic and advanced tools with sections dedicated to each.

This book provides an orderly, comprehensive study of Lean strategies, Lean implementation and future trends of Lean in the supply chain that any manager or logistics specialist will find useful. Addressing complexities in an easy to follow manner, this book is equally valuable to the seasoned professional as it will be to those just starting out in supply chain and logistics management.

This review was written by Bob Simmons. Bob Simmons currently teaches Industrial Engineering Technology at Northwestern State University. He holds degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. He holds a six sigma black belt certification, and is actively involved in the Institute of Industrial Engineers; American Society for Engineering Education; American Society for Quality; and the Production and Operations Management Society.

A companion site provides a Lean Opportunity Assessment tool as well as training slides to help make the transition from understanding to implementing Lean.