Principles and Techniques of Lean Manufacturing

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Lean Manufacturing Process:
Lean manufacturing is a performance-based process used in manufacturing organizations to increase competitive advantage. The basics of lean manufacturing employ continuous improvement processes to focus on the elimination of waste or nonvalue added steps within an organization. The challenge to organizations utilizing lean manufacturing is to create a culture that will create and sustain long-term commitment from top management through the entire workforce. Lean manufacturing techniques are based on the application of five principles to guide management’s actions toward success:

1. Value: The foundation for the value stream that defines what the customer is willing to pay for.

2. The Value Stream: The mapping and identifying of all the specific actions required to eliminate the non-value activities from design concept to customer usage.

3. Flow: The elimination of all process stoppages to make the value stream “flow” without interruptions.

4. Pull: The ability to streamline products and processes from concept through customer usage.

5. Perfection: The ability to advocate doing things right the first time through the application of continuous improvement efforts.

How do you sustain lean manufacturing techniques?

  • Create a solid business case
  • Align systems and processes
  • Share the vision
  • Empower the workforce
  • Ensure the use of proper measurement systems

The Four Thrusts of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing organizations focus on four thrusts to support their lean manufacturing designs:

I. Solid leadership that:

  • Communicates the vision.
  • Facilitates and models the behaviors of lean manufacturing.
  • Sets the standards for the organization.
  • Assists the workforce in adapting to the change.
  • Builds trust and inspires commitment.
  • Coaches and develops the workforce.
  • Constantly challenges the system.

II. Team-based cultures that:

  • Use project-oriented, team-based structures that focus on empowerment concepts.
  • Leverage knowledge by using highly skilled workers.
  • Promote employee accountability and responsibility for work.
  • Advocate the continual development of the workforce.
  • Value diversity.
  • Believe that employee ownership of the final product is shared throughout the process.

III. Communication systems that:

  • Advocate and develop processes to identify critical design issues as early in the process as possible.
  • Encourage “on-the-spot” decision-making processes that use the fewest resources to resolve critical design issues.
  • Promote knowledge sharing between hourly workers, management, and design personnel.
  • Drive the behaviors of internal operations, as well as focus on the behaviors of suppliers and customers.
  • Accept formal and informal communication behaviors.

IV. Simultaneous development and continuous improvement processes that:

  • Design the product right the first time.
  • Use continuous improvement processes to identify the non-value-added problems.
  • Drive commitment to eliminating problems (controlling them is not enough).
  • Advocate just-in-time material control systems.
  • Promote constant improvement throughout the supply chain.
  • Leverage the knowledge of the organization with the knowledge bases of suppliers and customers.
  • Continually train and develop highly skilled workers.
  • Use scoreboards or measurement systems to monitor progress.


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