What is Lean Manufacturing?
The term “Lean” is a manufacturing concept that views the use of resources outside the main goal of creating a product for a customer to be "non-value-adding," and it seeks to identify wastes and eliminate them. This product or service is considered a “value” in the lean model.
Coined by quality engineer John Krafcik in his 1988 article, “Triumph of the Lean Production System,” lean relies on concept innovations that evolved during Taiichi Ohno’s creation of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and centers around providing value to customers, with less waste and ineffectual work. In fact, in its efforts to identify wasteful muda (Japanese term for waste), Toyota developed a list of the 7 wastes that specifically represent wasteful entities within their production process, and they work to eliminate or at least reduce any and all of the identified wastes.
Lean can be said to represent a state of mind, or ideologies that recognize and support any process improvement methodology and/or management system that helps companies reduce waste, improving the overall efficiency of the organization. These proven methods are used to optimize flow, increase efficient methods of production, decrease non-value-adding work, cut costs, and improve the quality of a product or service. Some tools of the Lean include: JIT, kaizen, value stream mapping, kanban, poka yoke, and 5S. As Lean methods continue to expand, helping a growing number of organizations improve, lean tools and products are also brought into play. One example or recommendation of a lean product would be vinyl floor tape which can be used to create defined safety zones.