Lean in Labs

BSM are experts in applying 'Real Lean' in Labs and have developed innovative methodologies and solutions specific to the Lab environment. We work in Analytical Chemistry, Microbiology, R&D, Virology, Raw Material and many other types of labs.

Many weaker Lean Lab initiatives are based almost totally on waste elimination and the application of easy to understand tools like 5S, Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen. While these methods will certainly yield some results we know that more significant and sustainable gains will be realized by also applying the deeper Real Lean concepts of leveling, flow, pull and standard work.

Labs are not the same as manufacturing:

  • Typically more workload and mix volatility - i.e. the mix and volume of samples varies significantly day to day and week to week.
  • There is often a complex mix of routine and non routine testing, other tasks and project work.

Although the basic concepts and techniques of lean laboratory are straightforward, adapting them to a particular lab situation and integrating them into a defined process that uses resources well (and is simple to manage) is quite a challenge.

Building Sustainability

  • Involving analysts and support personnel in the detailed design of improved lean laboratory processes is critical to ownership and sustainability.
  • Communicating frequently to process users and customers during an improvement project is critical.
  • Building structured performance management processes including definition of suitable metrics and daily review huddles is essential for sustainability.
  • Developing 'Leader Standard Work' in which senior managers visibly support the new processes by visiting the labs and attending daily huddles.