How do I learn Lean Manufacturing?

How do I learn Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is an excellent methodology to eliminate wasteful processes, simplify manufacturing, and deliver high value to customers. 

However, Lean implementations fail at an astonishing rate of 70% in the United States. Lean principles can be difficult to implement, with challenges ranging from the high cost of transition, organizational resistance, and the need to continuously improve the implementation afterward. 

To ensure that these challenges don’t disrupt your implementation efforts, it’s vital to first learn everything you can about Lean manufacturing. In this article, we’ll dive into a quick-start guide that includes what Lean management principles are,  information about the five-step manufacturing cycle, and more.

Understanding Lean Manufacturing Tools 

First, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the most common Lean manufacturing tools and techniques. These include the 5S methodology, poka-yoke, value stream mapping, kitting, and Andon.

5S Methodology

The 5S methodology is a systematic framework for workspace organization. It is a crucial tool in implementing Lean methodology and provides five key steps (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain) for maintaining an efficient workspace to improve the quality of products. 


‘Poka-yoke’ refers to mistake-proofing or error-proofing. By integrating poka-yoke in processes, mistakes are eliminated and caught at the source, preventing product defects from reaching customers and ensuring a higher quality of output. 

Value Stream Mapping 

‘Value stream mapping’ refers to identifying and charting processes, flows of information, and physical goods across the supply chain. This is a primary tool for communicating Lean concepts, designing solutions, and identifying wastes that can occur from the acquisition of raw materials all the way to the delivery of the finished product.


‘Kitting’ refers to organizing parts and components needed for a process before delivering them to the point of use. This strategy helps save time on the production line, frees up space, reduces inventory, increases productivity, and overall improves the efficiency of the assembly process.


Andon is another Lean system that notifies management of a quality defect or processing problem. This is often done by using an audio-video signal or a light stack that automatically alerts management of issues such as product defects, supply shortages, etc. 

Understanding Lean Manufacturing Principles

Just-in-Time Production

Just-in-time production is a system that makes and delivers what is needed, exactly when it is needed, and only in the amount needed. It is made of three elements: takt time, continuous flow, and the pull system.


Kaizen is the concept of continuous improvement–the building block of all Lean processes. With Kaizen, manufacturers continuously focus on improving equipment, standardization, and other daily production procedures. It is based on the philosophy that there’s always something that can be improved. 


Jidoka roughly translates to ‘autonomation’ or automation with a human touch. It involves providing operators and machines with the ability to detect an abnormal situation, and immediately stop work to institute countermeasures to be more efficient. 

Understanding the Lean Manufacturing Cycle

The Lean Enterprise Institute introduced a five-step process in 1996 known as the ‘Lean manufacturing cycle’ to guide managers through a Lean transformation. 

The five principles of the Lean manufacturing cycle are: 

  1. Identify value: Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer.
  2. Map value stream: Identify steps in the value stream for each product family. Eliminate any step that does not create value.
  3. Create flow: Arrange the value-creating steps in a tight sequence so the product flows smoothly toward the customer.
  4. Establish pull: Once the flow is introduced, let customer demand pull (or drive) production.
  5. Seek perfection: Begin the process again and continue until a perfect business process with no waste is created.

Embrace the Continuous Improvement Cycle

Lean manufacturing is a complex methodology that requires significant learning and resources to implement successfully. Even once you succeed in implementing Lean across your manufacturing processes, there’s always something that can be changed for the better.

In addition, if you’re searching for help in applying Lean management principles, Creative Safety Supply can provide the tools you need to implement Lean programs and drive efficiency across all organizational levels. Connect with us today to discover how we can help you along your Lean management journey!


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