Defining Lean Manufacturing: 5 Key Principles

lean manufacturing principle

What is lean manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a system that focuses on continuous improvement – by creating values for customers, maximizing productivity, and reducing waste within the manufacturing process. When lean manufacturing is achieved, a company is able to improve its product quality significantly.

The 5 principles of lean manufacturing principle

Lean manufacturing is based on a specific set of principles.

  1. Define Value
    The goal of lean manufacturing is to add values to customers. These values comprise of a few things such as, how much money customers are willing to pay for your product? What problem does the product solve? Hence, it is important to understand your customers – what they need and what they want. Learning more about our customers may not be easy because some are not able to express exactly what they want, especially when it comes to newly launched products. This is why a business needs to go the extra mile to find out. For instance, conducting interviews, mapping customers’ demographic, surveys, and more. This will help you discover what customers find valuable. One thing to note, determining the value of a product should always be from the customer’s perspective.
  2. Map the Value Stream
    Value stream consists of any materials and processes needed to deliver the product to customers. Mapping value stream enables a company to identify any inefficiencies, opportunities, or even delays. The mapping value stream should be done regularly as the process evolves. When mapping value stream, a company should focus on adding values to reach Lean manufacturing. Hence, any activity that does not add value is wasteful and should be eliminated. On the other hand, steps that are still considered necessary but limited due to technology can be improved.
  3. Create Flow
    Once the waste is identified, it is time to apply strategies that will not interrupt or delay a production process. From start to finish – a production flow should be smooth. This lean manufacturing principle enables a company to ensure that a product is made and delivered to customers without issue. One of the most common issues in creating a smooth flow is the bottlenecks in the process. Clogs at a certain stage may hinder the progress in the workflow. Therefore, a company needs to alleviate the bottlenecks by experimenting with different methods – from limiting the amount of work to changing software so they can achieve maximum efficiency
  4. Establish Pull
    Another lean manufacturing principle is to create an on-demand system where a production process will not begin until orders are accepted. This means a pull-based system produces goods at the right time with the right quantity. This principle can effectively avoid overproduction and eliminates waste due to incorrect production amounts.
  5. Pursue Perfection
    Lean manufacturing principles are strictly related to continuous improvement. As businesses continuously search rooms for improvement, every person in the team needs to be responsible for their tasks because continuous improvement is about group effort and it starts with tackling the smallest issue perfectly.

Through these lean manufacturing principles, an organization can improve its production systems and manage the work environment better.

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