Lean Principles for Materials Management

/ By DSI Marketing TeamApril 26, 2023

Taiichi Ohno of Toyota was the creator of what we have come to know as Lean principles or methodologies. This system was originally created within the manufacturing industry but its teachings and principles can be applied across the board.

One such industry that finds great success by implementing these principles is the healthcare sector. This guide will have a closer look at what lean principles are and how the effective implementation of this methodology and a good materials management system can greatly improve the production process, productivity, and efficiency of a healthcare facility.

What are Lean Principles?

As previously discussed, the lean methodology was created within the manufacturing industry to tackle the issue of waste. There are many different types of waste that can drastically impede the processes and undertaking of tasks within an organization.

These principles serve as a guideline for organizations to identify where waste is created and how it is created. Materials management is able to identify the existence of these waste types within the organization and provide actionable solutions to better the working environment and boost productivity.

The lean principles identify 7 key areas in which waste is created:

  • Waste occurs in the form of defective stock. This means receiving low-quality raw materials that the organization may be unable to use.
  • Waste that is created from inaction and idling. This occurs when staff is late when meetings are extended due to latecomers, and when individuals are idle instead of being productive. 
  • Waste is created from an ineffective inventory control system. Without the right storage solutions or processes in place to identify older stock from newer, some supplies may go unused until they expire which places the organization at a loss.
  • Waste in the form of unnecessary transportation of patients, equipment, and other necessities.
  • Overproduction creates waste that is redundant. This occurs when tasks are repetitively undertaken for no visible benefit or productive gain.
  • Unnecessary movement creates wasted energy that could be directed toward increasing the quality of care that patients receive. Mobile storage solutions assist in lowering the need for unnecessary movement around the facility.
  • Over-processing waste refers to conducting additional steps that are unnecessary when taking care of a patient.

Understanding each principle is an effective means of approaching materials management and improving the quality of care that the healthcare facility produces.

An Overview of Materials Management in Healthcare

Materials management is a crucial process within a healthcare facility because, much like the lean principles, it directly assists in monitoring waste, the supply chain, and many of the other facets that the supply chain interacts with.

Inventory control measures, effective storage solutions, and accurate financial decisions all form part of materials management.

A good materials management function within a healthcare facility is able to identify issues within the organization and provide actionable solutions that ensure a streamlined flow of production. 

Benefits of Utilizing Lean Principles for Materials Management

Any healthcare facility that implements these Lean principles can find great success in boosting its overall productivity, efficiency, and lowered expenditure. These principles can greatly increase customer service levels and provide the facility with a wide range of potential benefits. 

Let's have a closer look at some of these benefits and how they may affect a healthcare facility.

Reducing Excess Inventory

Without an effective inventory control system, an organization may run into the issue of ordering an excessive amount of stock, or far too little. These principles assist a healthcare facility in identifying the issue of inaccurate inventory control and increasing the systems that ensure the elimination of waste.

Having an effective inventory control system should ensure that there is a continuous flow of supplies to the facility, without the risk of ordering an excess amount or an amount that does not meet demand.

Storage solutions such as a Kanban system are a great means for healthcare facilities to drastically improve their financial decisions and have a greater understanding of what supplies are present within the facility. 

Improved Production Flow

Production flow and productivity go hand-in-hand with one another. When a healthcare facility is able to effectively implement Lean principles, the production flow reaps phenomenal benefits. When medical professionals are able to effectively locate and acquire necessary supplies for a procedure, this greatly increases the efficiency of the production flow.

Implementing innovative solutions to reduce wasteful steps is a key process to undertake when improving a healthcare facility's production flow. One such solution comes in the form of enclosed supply carts.

These carts are specially designed to keep medical equipment, supplies, and tools sterile whilst minimizing the risk of damage. Due to its mobile nature, this allows for a consistent flow of materials throughout the facility whilst minimizing the movement between the storage room and the medical supply's intended location.

Increasing Customer Satisfaction

The quality of care that patients receive is paramount to any healthcare facility's success. When supplies are effectively stored in places that are sterile, easy to access, and well-maintained, the level of care that patients receive is greatly increased. The waste reduction ensures that the facility is effectively able to meet customer demand without the quality of service decreasing.

By effectively implementing these principles, a healthcare facility is able to increase patient satisfaction by efficiently completing tasks as they arise, taking less time to acquire necessary medical supplies, and having a streamlined working process that is free from wasteful steps that may affect the staff's efficiency.

Learn More About Lean Principles with Distribution Systems International

At Distribution Systems International, our team utilizes industry-leading systems to assist healthcare facilities with their materials management processes.

Most healthcare facilities are often not equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to identify and tackle issues within the supply chain, storage, and inventory-related facets of the organization.

Partnering with a professional team of materials management experts such as DSI Direct can provide your healthcare facility with the tools and knowledge necessary to reach peak performance.
To start implementing a materials management system that truly makes a revolutionary difference within your healthcare organization, contact us at 800-393-6090 at Distribution Systems International today!

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