Fundamentals of Lean



Lean fundamentals are a great place to start for businesses looking to improve efficiency and create more value. This set of principles has been proven repeatedly to help organizations reduce costs, eliminate waste, speed up production times, increase quality control measures and even improve customer service. It is truly remarkable what can be accomplished when executives understand the basics of Lean methodology and apply them in their organization.

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What are the Lean Fundamentals?


Lean manufacturing and lean service is a way of running a business that emphasizes efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction. Companies have used it worldwide to improve productivity, reduce costs, and create value for customers.

The Basics of Lean


Lean manufacturing is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), which was developed in Japan in the 1960s. TPS focuses on eliminating waste and improving processes so that products move smoothly through the supply chain.

In lean manufacturing, businesses strive to create value for customers by eliminating waste. Waste can take many forms, including overproduction, defects, inventory, motion, waiting, and transportation. By eliminating waste, lean manufacturing firms are able to produce higher-quality products at lower costs.

Lean manufacturing also emphasizes continuous improvement. Businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes and products. Lean manufacturing firms typically use tools and techniques to identify and eliminate waste, such as value stream mapping and kaizen events.

The Benefits of Lean


There are many benefits associated with lean manufacturing and these are also applicable to the entire service sector. These benefits include:

– Increased productivity

– Reduced costs

– Improved quality

– Increased customer satisfaction

Lean has been used by businesses worldwide to achieve these benefits. If you are interested in implementing lean manufacturing in your business, there are a few things you need to know.

1. Lean Is a System, Not a Technique


Lean manufacturing is a comprehensive system that must be implemented holistically. This means that lean thinking must be adopted throughout the entire organization, from the top down.

2. Lean Requires a Culture Change


Implementing lean manufacturing requires a change in corporate culture. This can be a challenge, but it is necessary for lean manufacturing to be successful.

3. Lean Is an Ongoing Process


Lean manufacturing is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Once you have implemented lean thinking in your organisation, you must continue working at it daily.

4. Lean Is About People, Not Machines


Lean manufacturing is about empowering people to improve their work. This means giving employees the autonomy to identify and solve problems.

5. Lean Is a Journey, Not a Destination


Lean manufacturing is a journey, not a destination. There is no “end state” that you can achieve. Instead, lean manufacturing is an ongoing process of continual improvement.

The 5S System


The 5S system is one of the most widely used tools for lean manufacturing. It consists of five steps: Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain.

1. Sort: The first step in the 5S system is to sort through all of the materials and equipment in your workplace. Remove anything that is not needed for production.

2. Set In Order: Once you have sorted through the materials and equipment, it’s time to set them in order. This means organising everything so that it is easy to find and use.

3. Shine: The third step in the 5S system is to clean your workplace. This includes sweeping, mopping, and dusting. It also means removing any clutter or debris.

4. Standardise: The fourth step in the 5S system is to standardize your workplace. This means creating procedures and processes so that everyone knows what to do and how to do it.

5. Sustain: The fifth and final step in the 5S system is to sustain your lean manufacturing efforts. This means continuing to implement the lean principles on a daily basis.

The Toyota Production System (TPS)


The TPS was developed by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota as a means of improving efficiency in its factories. It has since been adopted by other manufacturers worldwide.

The TPS consists of two main components: just-in-time (JIT) production and jidoka.

Just-in-time production is a lean manufacturing technique that involves producing only what is needed, when it is needed. This reduces waste and inventory levels and helps level cycle times.

Jidoka is a lean manufacturing technique that involves stopping the production line when a problem is detected. This allows for the problem to be fixed quickly, before it causes further issues.

The TPS has been successful in helping Toyota become one of the most efficient and productive car manufacturers in the world.

Just-in-Time (JIT)


One of the key components of the TPS is just-in-time (JIT) production. JIT production is a manufacturing process in which materials and products are supplied to the factory only when they are needed, rather than being stockpiled.

The goal of JIT production is to minimize waste by eliminating excess inventory. This, in turn, reduces costs and improves quality.



Toyota has used lean since the 1970s. It was developed as a response to the Japanese car industry’s inability to keep up with demand. In fact, the company had to shut down its factories for several months due to a lack of capacity.

To solve this problem, Toyota developed the Kanban system. Kanban is a lean manufacturing tool that helps businesses to improve their production process.

Kanban works by creating a visual representation of the production process. This allows businesses to see where bottlenecks are occurring and take action to eliminate them.

Lean is a comprehensive system that must be implemented holistically to be successful. A change in corporate culture is necessary for lean manufacturing to take hold, and employees must be empowered to improve their work. Lean is a journey, not a destination; no “end state” can be achieved. The 5S and Toyota Production System are two of the most widely used tools for lean manufacturing. You can learn more about Kanban – click here!

To learn more, join our Free Fundamentals of Lean Course.

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Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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