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Lean Manufacturing

Published on Apr 02, 2024


In 1900's U.S. manufacturers like Henry ford brought the concept of mass production. U.S. manufacturers have always searched for efficiency strategies that help reduce costs, improve output, establish competitive position, and increase market share.

Early process oriented mass production manufacturing methods common before World War II shifted afterwards to the results-oriented, output-focused, production systems that control most of today's manufacturing businesses.

Japanese manufacturers re-building after the Second World War were facing declining human, material, and financial resources. The problems they faced in manufacturing were vastly different from their Western counterparts. These circumstances led to the development of new, lower cost, manufacturing practices. Early Japanese leaders such as the Toyota Motor Company's Eiji Toyoda, Taiichi Ohno, and Shingeo Shingo developed a disciplined, process-focused production system now known as the "lean production." The objective of this system was to minimize the consumption of resources that added no value to a product.

The "lean manufacturing" concept was popularized in American factories in large part by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology study of the movement from mass production toward production as described in The Machine That Changed the World, (Womack, Jones & Roos, 1990), which discussed the significant performance gap between Western and Japanese automotive industries.

This book described the important elements accounting for superior performance as lean production. The term "lean" was used because Japanese business methods used less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of operations. The resulting competition among U.S. and Japanese automakers over the last 25 years has lead to the adoption of these principles within all U.S. manufacturing businesses. Now it has got global acceptance and is adopted by industries world over to keep up with the fast moving and competing industrial field.


Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing system and philosophy that was originally developed by Toyota, Japan and is now used by many manufacturers throughout the world.

Lean Manufacturing can be defined as:

"A systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection."

The term lean manufacturing is a more generic term and refers to the general principles and further developments of becoming lean.The term lean is very apt because in lean manufacturing the emphasis is on cutting out "FAT" or wastes in manufacturing process. Waste is defined as anything that does not add any value to the product. It could be defined as anything the customer is not willing to pay for.

Manufacturing philosophy is pivoted on designing a manufacturing system that perfectly blends together the fundamentals of minimizing costs and maximizing profit. These fundamentals are Man (labour), Materials and Machines (equipments) called the 3 M's of manufacturing. A well-balanced 3M is resulted through lean manufacturing.


The aim of Lean Manufacturing is the elimination of waste in every area of production including customer relations, product design, supplier networks, and factory management. Its goal is to incorporate less human effort, less inventory, less time to develop products, and less space to become highly responsive to customer demand while producing top quality products in the most efficient and economical manner possible.

Essentially, a "waste" is anything that the customer is not willing to pay for.

Typically the types of waste considered in a lean manufacturing system include:


To produce more than demanded or produce it before it is needed. It is visible as storage of material. It is the result of producing to speculative demand. Overproduction means making more than is required by the next process, making earlier than is required by the next process, or making faster than is required by the next process.

Causes for overproduction waste include

" Just-in-case logic

" Misuse of automation

" Long process setup

" Unleveled scheduling

" Unbalanced work load

" Over engineered

" Redundant inspections

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