Lean Production Launch

Lean production launch process development

My experience with production launch goes back to 1996 with a leadership role leading the team that developed GM’s first production launch process. This first version was not lean but it was highly effective and remains their global common process.

Subsequently, the process was refined in the locomotive and defense industries (along with their supplier base) where there was more freedom to fully implement lean principles. The result was Lean Production Launch.

Baseline Production Launch Process

The baseline version of this process is a relatively plug-and-play process; easy to implement into new situations. I would use this with clients to facilitate quick implementation. The baseline process is a series of four sub-processes based on the Four Key Success Factors for winning at production launch:

  • Achievable Build Plan
  • Dynamic Integration
  • Part Readiness
  • Build Issue Resolution

For an overview of the Baseline Production Launch Process, click here for a PDF file.

Whenever you work with a consultant who claims to be selling something that is “lean”, you should always ask them to prove it. To assure clients that this process is lean, read the paper The Baseline Production Launch Process – With Lean Principles at its Foundation. Click here for this PDF file.

Benefits of implementing Lean Production Launch

Initial implementation: First implementations of the process often yielded dramatic improvements. For example, the first application of the process at GM Defense fixed an on-time delivery problem with suppliers where historically 20% to 40% of pre-production parts were late. In less than a year, late parts were less than 1% and this was sustainable.

Ongoing benefits: Ongoing use of Lean Production Launch allows a company to continuously improve its build issue resolution capability which is measurable. This pushes the organization to resolve problems at the earliest opportunity. This leads to reductions in the number of pre-production units (prototypes) and data driven improvements in product design. Additionally, the company usually takes on applying lean principles into their product development process to reduce cost and lead-times.

For more details on benefits: I wrote the article, How to Win at Production Launch for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers online newsletter Lean Directions. In it I spell out in the characteristics of companies who have three different levels of mastery of production launch. Companies with no launch process perform at Level 1. Implementing Lean Production Launch will get you to Level 2. Level 3 can be attained after sustained use of the process. Click here for a link to the SME article webpage or click here for a PDF file.