Lastly, the industry is highly dependent on raw leather from local sources only. However, the eating patterns of beef and mutton dictate the quantities of hides of skins available to the tanneries in Ethiopia, Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery included. However, within sub-Saharan Africa, there are options from skins and hides can be sourced. These which include Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the Sudan and Senegal.
Implementation of Lean Principles to benefit Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery
Having looked into the details of Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery, the lean principles learnt and discussed in this unit may assist the Operations Manager/Manageress in optimising efficiencies while minimising cost and improving customer service levels in several ways.
Firstly, the company needs to revisit the job descriptions of everyone working in the company. This revisiting will include ironing out the details of each and every employee formally and informally employed by Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery with the purpose to streamline and align their duties and responsibilities with the company’s mission, vision and values. This will ensure that everyone on the payroll is ‘lean’ enough to grow into and with the company as it seeks to realise maximum outputs as it minimises costs.
Secondly, the Operations Manager/ Manageress needs to understand the goal of the lean principles. When it comes down to it, the lean principles are about ensuring that Sheba Leather Industry runs effectively and efficiently. This will include following the flow chart as illustrated in Figure 4. This will in turn guide the future decisions of the company in terms of expenditures and incomes with the sole purpose of realising maximum profits.
Figure 4: An Illustration of How to make each Sheba Product Leaner
Moreover, decisions concerning the optimum level of employment will be followed through more easily by breaking down the various products that Sheba Leather is concerned with. For instance, management can classify the products differently: by shoes, boots, and gloves; or by footwear, luggage, and others. In doing so, the individual products get more scrutiny in terms of which ones would be viewed as most profitable (hence more of those products should be produced), and which ones need to be phased out completely. These decisions cannot be made when all the products are lumped together as being Ethiopian produce or being the products of Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery. In both the long-term and the short-term, this split in products will guide the company in making leaner decisions based on which skins and hides to be purchased, which suppliers bring in the best or most acceptable quality of skins and hides, how many employees are needed per set of products, how much of the machinery is utilised for each product line’s production process, among other aspects.
This paper has focused on the leather and tannery industry, particularly on Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery. More specifically, this paper has discussed the main factors that influence the manufacturing process design of leather products produced by Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery. By pulling primarily from the works of Sinha and Van de Ven’s (2005) and Lawrence Fredendall’s (2016), the principles of lean design have been addressed in the context of Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery.
Firstly, Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery’s manufacturing process design is influenced by the low number of skilled workers and well-trained production managers. Secondly, Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery is plagued by low levels of productivity because of insufficient knowledge on the production technology and lining the processing plants. Thirdly, the quality of raw and semi-processed hides and skins has negatively impacted the manufacturing design of Sheba Leather Industry and Tannery. Lastly, the industry is highly dependent on raw leather from local sources only.
Regarding efforts geared to steering the company towards being leaner, the company first needs to review, revise and revisit the job descriptions of everyone working in the company. Also, the Operations Manager/ Manageress needs to gain full understanding of the lean principles. Finally, decisions concerning the optimum level of employment will be followed through more easily by breaking down the various products that Sheba Leather produces.