What does Lean Manufacturing consist of?

What does Lean Manufacturing consist of?

The manufacturing industry deals with a lot of waste every day. And whether it’s excess inventory, unnecessary movement, or unused talent, the result is hampered productivity. Lean manufacturing, including the 5S principles, aims to combat this through five key elements: identifying value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, establishing a pull system, and pursuing perfection. 

But what are the benefits of Lean manufacturing? By applying its postulates through different tools and processes, businesses reduce waste, allowing them to be more efficient, produce better-quality products, and provide more value to customers.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a production methodology that’s founded on reducing waste, maximizing productivity, and creating customer value. It was first implemented in the Toyota Production System (TPS), which helped the company overhaul its manufacturing processes and expand worldwide to become one of the most prominent car brands in the world. It’s now used in various industries, including healthcare and services.

The Eight Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

To understand Lean manufacturing, it’s essential to know the different types of wastes it considers non-value adding. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Overproduction: Producing work that’s excess of demand
  2. Excess Inventory: Overstocking of materials or resources
  3. Unnecessary Motion: Unnecessary movement of people or equipment
  4. Defects: Products or services unfit for use and requires rework or scrapping
  5. Overprocessing: All excess and unrequired work
  6. Waiting: Any type of service that’s not in motion, whether equipment, materials, people, or workflows
  7. Unnecessary Transport: Excessive movement of resources
  8. Unused Talent: Waste of skills or potential

Lean manufacturing is grounded on the belief that by eliminating these wastes, companies will be more efficient–a theory that has been proven correct by multiple businesses that have adopted the technique.

The Five Key Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is based on five fundamental principles: identifying value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, establishing a pull system, and pursuing perfection. These are the elements that define the implementation of the methodology. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

Identifying Value

Value is defined by the customer, and this determines how much they are willing to pay for products and services. Companies must understand the value their customers place on what they offer and then create it in a way that eliminates waste and costs to achieve an optimal price that still brings high profits.

Mapping The Value Stream

The value stream encompasses the entire lifecycle of a product, from raw materials to disposal. Companies must analyze this to identify waste and pinpoint places for improvement, which can be done through a process called supply chain alignment. Anything that doesn’t add value should be removed.

Creating Flow

A seamless workflow creates a harmonious and integrated set of processes, which means ensuring a constant stream of production or service delivery. Businesses should review their processes and remove any functional barriers (i.e. interruptions) to improve lead times.

Establishing A Pull System

A pull system operates by only starting work when there is demand; nothing is bought or made until customers are looking for the products or services offered. This contrasts with the push system, which is typically used in manufacturing resource planning (MRP). 

With the push system, inventory needs are met in advance based on forecasts. These predictions, however, may be inaccurate, resulting in under- or overproduction, translating to increased costs and inefficiencies. A pull system allows teams to adapt to challenges as they arise, so it requires a lot of flexibility and communication to be properly implemented.

Pursuing Perfection

Known as ‘Kaizen,’ the pursuit of perfection is the foundation of Lean manufacturing. It dictates that companies must always strive for continuous assessment and improvement to be able to eliminate waste and develop a perfect work system. 

Lean Manufacturing and the 5S Principles

Lean manufacturing also has variations. For example, if you’re wondering whether Lean Six Sigma is useful, it is effective as an alternative to simple Lean manufacturing as it also integrates the concepts of another equally effective production framework. The 5S principles are also valuable as a systematic form of visual management founded on Lean manufacturing. Learn more about 5S and how to implement it with Creative Safety Supply to improve your business!


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