Lean Solutions, LLC.

... a consulting services company


You need help with your processes. That's why you need Lean Solutions to help you get it all together.

Processes can be a naturally occuring or a man made sequence of events that acheive a result. Businesses have many different processes that sometimes interact and sometimes stand alone. It is not unusual to have processes in a business that are not intentional, that is to say they are not "designed", they just happen out of necessity.
To have control over business process is to be purposeful in their design and execution.

Order Management

Your order managment system begins the Quote to Invoicing cycle. Errors introduced early in the process will flow through your business and can contribute to all three enemies of lean. Your customers need to be confident that the quote they receive is accurate, and they demand a quick turn around. Orders that they place need to be properly configured and priced and they need to have confidence that they can track the status of their orders through production and shipping. If you extend credit to your customers you need to have a robust system that can flag orders that need to be held and a smooth workflow for notifiying the credit deparement and customer service of the situation.

If your product is made to order your business can benefit from a configurator that allows your customer service staff and your customers to configure valid options for your products. These types of systems are more complex than an ordering system that handles only preconfigured SKUs. They often refer to a backend database to retrieve configuration rules and pricing. If your product can be configured in multiple ways, and you don't have a system that handles the configuration, you are most likely suffering from errors in manual calculations. Errors cause you and your customer money and can ultimately lead to customers abandoning your company.

Order management systems can be available only to your staff (internal) or they can be available to your customers, typically as an internet based application, or they can be combination of both. No matter how you take orders from your customers, having an accurate, user friendly system is one of the most important decisions your company can make.

Planning / Scheduling

You've pursued your prospects, you've quoted and requoted, and finally you get the purchase order. Now you need to schedule the resources (labor, materials, machine time) to produce and ship the order. This is where your scheduling system comes in. Combining your plants capacities by deparment and your labor and machine availability allows you to produce a schedule that is realistic and achievable.

Scheduling systems can also take into account the routing of the shipping and delivery departments. Sequencing production to assist in truck loading and route planning is common with more advanced systems, often called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). It's not uncommon for businesses to be using a partially manual, partially automated process for planning and scheduling.

Supply Chain

Supply chains form the backbone of your raw materials and can provide a competitive advantage to your company. Supply chain management can be classified by two catergories: supply chain planning systems and supply chain execution systems. These systems can be vertical (buyer/seller) or horizontal (cooperative), often between divisions of the same company.

There have been hundreds of books written about supply chain management and there are many companies that supply software to manage your supply chain. What is most important is that you have a system in place and that your team actively works constantly to improve the system through vendor feedback, freight cost reduction and sourcing agreements. Just one stock out can cost a great deal through lost productivity, unnecessary freight costs and ultimately customer dissatisfaction. Let Lean Solutions help you streamline your supply chain systems.

Inventory Managment

How you store and track your inventory and its usage can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. You need a systematic approach to your warehouse and the right processes need to be in place to prevent stock outs and excess or obsolete inventory.  Software for tracking and issuing inventory can be invaluable. You need to have the right materials, in the right place at the right quanitites at the right time to be successful. If you are experiencing less than 12 turns per year in manufacturing, you have room for improvement. Lean Solutions can help by working with your warehouse management team to design a system to drive waste out of your inventory management.


You've taken the order, you've produced the product and now it's time to ship it to the customer. Your customers want to know when they will recieve their product and they expect you to deliver when you say you will. Good delivery begins during the planning stage of your process. Determining routes prior to production helps smooth the flow of materials through finished goods and turns those orders into invoices. The industry has many routing applications to choose from. Almost any size organization can benefit from route planning software.

Loading the trucks can be greatly enhanced by the use of pick lists and scanning materials onto the trucks. This is a great applciation for bar coding or rfid.

Give Lean Solutions a call and let us help you with your shipping systems and processes.

Preventative Maintenance (PM)

Defects and Waiting are two wastes of muda that can be greatly impacted through a good preventative maintenance (PM) program. Your equipment works hard every day and without proper maintenance it's not a question of if it will break down, it's a only a matter of time. Regular preventative maintenance is performed on a schedule and during non production hours if at all possible. Establishing a routine of cleaning and maintenance ensures that you will identify issues with equipment before they happen, giving you time to order parts if needed and repair or replace during off times.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are available for almost any size business and they are a wonderful tool to help you track your equipment's maintenance needs. CMMS allows you to set a PM schedule for each of your machines, create a spare parts inventory, create and assign work orders to maintenance workers and track your downtime by machine. By establishing metrics for PMs and downtime you can gain control over your equipment and ensure that it is always in a running state.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can streamline your communications with both your customers and your vendors. The most common standard of EDI is X12 which has been in use for more than 40 years. The fundamental tenent of EDI is that it is a completely computerized exchange between two parties. Manual intervention is only required when there is an error condition.

EDI files can be sent via FTP, E-mail, HTTP to name a few. They can be sent and received as clear text or as an encrypted transmission. Most large retailers will require you to use EDI in order to do business with them.

It is common for EDI documents to be sent through a Value Added Network (VAN). The VAN handles any encyrption/decryption and provides the client with a way to find and retransmit documents with errors. Typcially a VAN charges per document or is a bulk price for X number of documents. Although VANs are the most common way to do EDI, they are not required and you can write you own package to send and recieve the documents (files) using whatever transport protocol you wish as long as the sender and receiver agree on how they want the documents (files) to flow.

There are multiple types of EDI (X12) documents. You can use only those that fit your needs. You can also just create your own format and as long as the receiver can parse it out and retrieve the necessary data this method can work.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved X12 documents for many different types of applciations. Common to manufacturing is the Order Series (ORD) documents.

Of these the most commonly used are:

  • 810 - Invoice
  • 850 - Purchase Order
  • 855 - Purchase Order Acknowledgment
  • 856 - Ship Notice/Manifest
  • 857 - Shipment and Billing Notice
  • 997 - Functional Acknowledgment