Lean Production Is an Innovative Production Technique Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Lean Production is an innovative production technique of Japanese origin that aims at bring efficiency in production. The system comprises of various different techniques, all focusing on ensuring best quality and maximum levels outputs in minimum inputs. Minimum inputs here, not only refer to minimum in terms of materials, but also in terms of time and cost thus ensuring minimum wastage (Stevensons, 2008). Methods that are part of Lean Production include Kaizen, Kanban, Cell Production, Just In Time, and Total Quality Management.

Another thing that differentiated companies practicing Lean Production methods is the way they adhere to accounting principles. Also referred to as 'Lean Accounting' this method of cost accounting and managerial accounting allows accountants to efficiently divide their costs in processes and get accurate results rather than crude estimates. One of the pioneers in Lean Production and Lean Accounting System is the renowned automotive company, Toyota Motors.

A major and critical part of the decision making for any organization occurs, when the organization has to decide on its future investments. This may be any kind of investment decision such as buying a new machinery, new property, or investing in stocks. The decision is complicated because there are various factors that may influence the accuracy of investing in a certain project. Ignoring even one of the factors may result in a wrong investment decision, which might lead to heavy losses for the organization. In order to prevent any inaccurate decision making firms draw forecasted plans pertaining to the investment decision that lay ahead of them. These plans are known as Capital Budgeting. As the name suggests Capital Budgeting or Capital Redemption techniques refer to budget and evaluate the costs and return pertaining to making a capital investment. It is, in simple terms a cost benefit analysis that helps in determining the feasibility of a project.

Quality Control

The Toyota Motors is very particular about the quality assurance in the business, whether in terms of goods and services or in terms of performance of overall business operations. The Company adheres to strict Total Quality Management practices, where constant check and balance is maintained on every stage of business operation that is from receiving supplies to final delivery to customer (Waters, 1999). Being a large business, The Toyota Motors have a separate quality control department. However, the management still sets strict benchmarks and standards and ensures that the business is up to the mark. The business uses techniques such as lead time stock management system and cost efficient capacity management systems that ensures avoiding of over stocking and under stocking and inventories are maintained at acceptable levels (Houle, 2007).

It does have a separate quality control department amd the management of the company used Total Quality Management (TQM) practices in order to ensure consistency in quality. This is done by setting standards for each level of business operation and then maintaining quality checks to ensure that performance at that level is up to the standard. The Toyota Motors keeps uses simple quality management tools such as the Pareto chart, check sheets and check lists.

The quality control department is responsible for checking every morning that all the supplies are fresh and are up to the mark and in required quantity. Any shortages or flawed supplies are reported and arrangements are made to rectify it. Supplies such as defected raw materials are rejected and fresh supplies are arranged for. One person from the management makes surprise inspection visits to the manufacturing site in order to make sure that the quality reports which the quality control department submits is in compliance with the required standards. The inspector personally checks and inspects the operations for quality management.

The inspection personnel are required to maintain check sheets in which they record all their observation that is the consistencies and lacking that are in the company and that needs to be addressed these records are then charted on the Pareto chart (Houle 2007). This helps in addressing the root cause of the problem, in case one arises and eliminating it at that stage so that consistency in quality can be maintained.

How Capital Budgeting is Done?

When any firm makes an investment in a project, its objective is to maximize the returns that it will be gaining from the investment it will make. However, the case is not as simple as it sounds. There are two major factors that are considered when investment decisions are made. The first factor is the projects payback period. The payback period tells the investor that in how much time the investor will be able to cover his original investment back. The longer the payback period comes, that means the longer time will the project take to cover the original amount that was invested. This means that the cash will remain stuck up in the project until the capital is fully recovered.

What creates problem here is the fact that money loses its real value over a period of time due to inflation. For example the value of £ 100 today will be much less as compared to what it was ten years back. This is because inflation has increased over a period of time. Putting this example in context of capital budgeting, the longer the money is stuck in a project, the more it will tend to lose its real value. This means that investors will have to consider if their returns from investment justify the real value of money that they have earned. If the returns are higher in nominal terms, but the real value of money is less than the amount that was originally invested, than the project is not worth investing in.

Financial Decision Making

In order to make a final decision about what projects should a firm invest in, various methods are used. ToyotaInc uses four options that include the Payback method, the Accounting Rate of Return method, the Internal Rate of Return Method, and the Net Present Value method. All these methods are discussed under the following sections.

Payback Period

The Payback method involves selecting the project that recovers the investors' originally invested capital in the shortest possible time. This method is usually used in circumstances where the organization has limited funds available for investment and it needs timely circulation of cash flows in order to avoid any cash short falls. Under this method, investors generally set a maximum time period within which they expect to cover the invested capital amount. If a project's payback period comes out to be greater than the investor's maximum time period, then the investor is likely to avoid investing in that project.

Accounting Rate of Return

The Accounting Rate of Return or the ARR technique is a relatively obsolete technique as compared to the other methods of investment appraisal. This is because unlike other methods, the Accounting Rate of Return technique uses profits rather than cash flows to choose between the investment options. Under this technique, project with a higher ARR must be chosen. The biggest drawback with this technique is that ignores the time duration within which the invested amount will be recovered. It also ignores the fact that money will lose its real value over a period of time. Under ARR technique a project, which earns higher returns towards the end and has a longer payback period, but the overall ARR is higher is chosen over a project with a shorter payback period. This would obviously lead to misleading the decision makers and might also lead to severe cash flow problems for the organization.

In the case of Toyotathe ARR is a good 46% despite of a negative NPV. Looking at the Accounting Rate of Return figures in isolation, ToyotaInc. seems to be a very favorable option.

Net Present Value

As mentioned earlier, the real value of money depreciates over a period of time due to inflationary pressures. The longer the capital is stuck up in a project, the more real value it will tend to lose. The Net Present Value or the NPV technique takes this factor into account when deciding about investing in a particular project.

Present value expresses the expected future cash flows in terms of the current worth of money. This means that the technique converts the cash flow returns that the investment is likely to earn in future, into the current worth of money. In this way firms can determine how much real value of money is likely to be lost . The Net Present Value is the total sum of all present values over a period of time subtracted from the amount that was originally invested. A positive NPV means that the project will give favourable returns to the firm and is likely to be accepted. A negative NPV would mean that the firm will lose its money by investing in the project, and thus the project must be rejected. A zero NPV means that the project will neither add any financial gains to the firm, nor will it take out any…

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