lean manufacturing

Top Things to Know about Lean Manufacturing this 2018

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Lean Manufacturing is not a new concept. While it is considered the best idea for complete waste management, there are a lot of things that every business should know.

In this article, the focus will be on the top aspects that every individual must know about lean manufacturing and how it impacts the manufacturing process.

In the first section of this blog, the necessary information about lean manufacturing and the principle behind it will be discussed. The second section will discuss the known advantages of the process. Third, the article will look at the ethical practices of a lean company.  Finally, the report will look at the basic principles that make a lean company successful.

Basic Principles of Lean Manufacturing

The Principle: Lean Manufacturing is a philosophy that aims to improve on production continuously. Lean management seeks to provide high-quality production while reducing the cost of producing quality goods and shortening the lead time.

What sets lean management apart from the rest of the processes?  The standard procedure aims to eliminate all wastes and maximize the use of raw materials.

History: While the principle got its early recognition in Japan, it was James Womack who first talked about the notion of Lean manufacturing in his 1990′ book entitled “The Machine That Changed the World.”

The idea came from the early years of the Toyota Production System after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War.  It was during this time that the company was looking for a way to compete with the already established car industry of the US.  The primary goal was to develop and implement low-cost improvements so they can produce more with every raw material that they use.

The Concept of Waste: Waste has a different definition in manufacturing. It has been defined as anything that does not add value to the end product. There are eight different kinds of waste that the production principle is trying to pursue and they are defined as any of the following:

  1. Over-production against the plan. There is a waste when the factory or the production line is producing much more than the intended production.  This overproduction would lead to higher storage needs. If your business is providing more than what it is required to, then more storage will be needed, and unnecessary costs will be incurred.
  2. Waiting time of operators and machines. When the waiting time of the operators and the devices overlap with the time being paid to employees, then there is the idle time that is being funded by the company. While it may seem like idle times of short intervals could not be that bad, the reality is that 15-minute intervals every 8 hour working period is an hour’s worth of paid labor lost.
  3. Unnecessary transportation. If the manufacturer does not learn how to move materials efficiently, they would lose money and may end up paying more than what they should.
  4. Waste in the process itself. If the manufacturer has too much waste coming out in the process that they can otherwise use to produce some of their products, then there is a waste in the process itself that needs to be addressed by lean management.
  5. Excess stock of material and components. Inventory composes of two things – inventory in raw materials and list of product. Having just one excess would mean that the business is not producing in the amount that it should with minimal waste. Over-processing of materials into end products would also end up in a wasteful production.
  6. Non-value-adding motion. The movement of goods and people are two things that should be done as efficiently as possible. With lean manufacturing, the primary goal is to do just that and make sure that both are working based on the prescribed motion.
  7. Defects in quality. If the line is producing just the right amount of goods and there are defects in the variety of such products, how much time would you need to reinvest to produce the right amount of products?
  8. Workforce efficiency. The efficiency level of the workforce is just as important as all other aspects of the manufacturing.

Losses: Lean manufacturing aims to prevent different kinds of losses, and they are the following:

  1. Availability Losses – Availability Losses refer to the type of damage that focuses on the needs of the manufacturing process to produce the product. Availability losses include two things, they are:
  2. Equipment failure – when there is equipment failure, such as tooling failure, machine breakdowns, or emergency maintenance stops, the efficiency and productivity is affected as well.
  3. Setups and adjustments – these are big maintenance woes that should also be minimized as they could lead to significant losses.
  4. Performance Losses – Whenever there is a performance loss, it is the relationship between the machinery and the workforce that is affected. This kind of injuries would include some minor stops in productions and reduced speed of the production line.
  5. Quality Losses –  The most significant kind of loss that companies endure is quality losses.  These kinds of injuries would include products that are produced with defects and errors that cannot be accepted by quality control.

Advantages of Lean Manufacturing

 The advantages:

  1. Improved quality of the end product. By removing waste and making sure that the line would only produce things that are needed for the delivery, the quality of the product improves. With lean manufacturing, the company would focus more on getting their production with better results and this improvement is easily seen with the system.
  2. Improved management. Management by sight, when correctly done, allows the individual company to evaluate the results of their work through a visual scan.  With lean manufacturing, an optical scan is easier to do, and all abnormalities will stand out.
  3. Increased efficiency.   With the creation of a habit, a line would get the repeatability and such would increase the efficiencies.
  4. Workforce refinements. This process also allows them to check on the work of every individual member of the team and see to it that only the most efficient way is used.  Hence, machinery and individuals who are no longer as productive as the end goal of the company could be laid off.
  5. Easy management.  The process of lean manufacturing allows people to know what they have to do and when they need to do those things and therefore management becomes a more manageable feat.

Other advantages of lean manufacturing:

  1. Improved employee morale where the employees feel more involved with the production of the company.
  2. There is also a natural problem elimination is more natural with lean manufacturing since it is also easier to spot them.
  3. Reduced Spacebecomes a reality because unnecessary machinery, individuals, and even time used in manufacturing are used in something else.
  4. Safer Work Environment – the cleanliness, as well as the better sanitation of the company, would lead to a safer work environment as it allows the checking of the machinery through a mere visual checkup.
  5. Total Company Involvement– with lean manufacturing, individual companies are allowed to have total company involvement where the management sees their needs and makes sure that they would produce more efficiently and based on the needs of the corporation.

Taking Care of Your Human Capital

The primary key that every company should know with this process is how to take care of their employees.  This one will be discussed more in future articles, but in a nutshell, the following are some of the lean manufacturing ways of taking care of your human resource:

  1. Maintain a high level of transparency and accountability among the line.
  2. Ensure that company benefits are wholly given to your human resource.
  3. Do not overwork your line and make sure that they only for the maximum period that is required and allowed by law.
  4. Align your purpose with the goals that you have and let your human resource know about your goals.
  5. Incentivize good work and let your people know that you are keeping an eye on the company.

Good Practices of a Lean Company

A lean company has many different benificial practices, but most practitioners would apply the 5S to set the foundation of a lean company.

  1. SORT – The process begins with the process of sorting. This would include the following steps to be taken:
    1. Removal of any unnecessary tools
    2. Removal and depletion of redundant supplies; and
    3. The departures of equipment that can no longer be used by the company to increase the available storage space for the inventory of the company and increase the open work area.
  2. SET IN ORDER – Organization is the second tool that companies need to follow.
    1. Organizing tools necessary and often used in producing the needs of the individuals are essential;
    2. Ensuring that the supplies are enough to build based on the demand are also required; and
    3. Providing for the right workstations in a manner that will perk up competence and make it easier to shift from one undertaking to the next is essential.
  3. SHINE – The word shine refers to the cleanliness of the workplace and the materials used as well as the human resource used by the individuals. When the workplace is clean, it would be easier to spot any leak and any problem that may need to be changed by the individual.
  4. STANDARDIZE – There is a need to make sure that every owner would get all of the improvements implemented, and the line would get the full benefit of the new lean manufacturing process.
  5. SUSTAIN – The company should also make sure that they would continue to appraise and improve workflow by practicing each step in 5S on every production process.

Other Basic Principles that Make A Lean Company Successful

While the 5S of Lean manufacturing are the principles that make a lean company successful, there are also other principles that companies should look at to be successful in the adaptation.

  1. Specifies Value – there is a value to the product based on the company’s perspective and based on the customer’s perspective as well. Every company should look at this to get the right value where they meet with the point of view of the client.
  2. Identify and Create Value Streams – value streams are essential so that there would not just be a visual improvement to the product but that there would also be a measurable improvement to it.
  3. Make the Value flow from raw material to Customer – the value that you placed to the product should begin with the raw materials and end to the customer.
  4. Pull Production not Push – the company should learn how to pull production above and not just push it to produce. A good product begins and ends with the company motivation.
  5. Strive for Perfection – perfection is only achieved by the company when it continues to update its processed and address every problem that would arise.


Lean Manufacturing is no longer a new concept.  It seems that there are already a lot of principles and studies that keep coming out about productivity and enhancing the manufacturing process.  Lean manufacturing is different because the goal is not only to increase productivity but to perfect the process itself. Every company should give this process a chance as it may bring about a more profitable future.


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