Lean Manufacturing

Theme Blogging Week: Lean Sourcing

By Jon Miller Published on April 24th, 2007

The Sourcing Innovation blog has organized a group of fellow bloggers in a series of posts on the topic of sourcing over the next week. Each of our 20 or so blogs will raise their Top Three issues in sourcing.
What can a kaizen blog offer on the topic of sourcing? Well, what is sourcing? I think Sourcing is the great-grandson of Purchasing but I’m not 100% sure. The genealogy to me looks something like this:
Purchasing begat Procurement begat Supply Chain Management begat Sourcing.
There might also be a great uncle called Materials in there somewhere. In any case, sourcing as I understand it is about getting the right thing in the right amount at the right quality at the right place at the right time.
This is a lot like the definition of Just in Time. An important distinction between the lowest-cost approach to sourcing in vogue today and what we might call Lean sourcing can be found in Chapter 23 of Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management in which he gives us added insight into the classic definition of Just in Time:

One of the main fundamentals of the Toyota System is to make “what you need, in the amount you need, by the time you need it,” but to tell the truth there is another part to this and that is “at a lower cost.” But that part is not written down.

I think the key to Ohno’s idea is the word “lower”. It is not “low” or even “lowest” and although it may seem subtle, the choice of words reflects the thinking that has made Toyota’s supply chain so phenomenal. Therefore this blog’s contribution of the Top Three topics on sourcing will be:
3. Slow is the New Fast
2. The 90-mile Rule
Stay tuned to learn more.

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