5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a production method that’s used to minimize waste in a manufacturing system without impacting productivity. Over time, five core principles have been developed for lean manufacturing with the end goal of continually improving while fostering a respect for people and products. Ultimately, the pillars of lean manufacturing are intended to improve business across all facets.

Understand Value

Value refers to the cost that a consumer is willing to pay for a product. The cost is determined by several influencing factors, including the price that customers feel they can afford, how they would prefer to have the service or product delivered, and demographics. Sometimes, entities must conduct surveys, interview, and analyze demographic information to determine what customers consider to be a “valuable” product.

Define Value Stream

Every product has a value stream, which is essentially a combination of all the aspects of a product’s value as determined by customers. Activities are categorized as those that add value and those that don’t. Activities that do not add value to a product are considered waste. Sometimes, activities do not directly add to a product’s value stream, but they are still considered to be essential. The activities that impact a product’s value stream include all associated steps and processes. The end goal is to make sure that consumers get what they want out of a product while reducing production time and costs for a certain service or product.

Create a Continuous Organizational Flow

Once the value stream has been refined and improved, companies can start thinking about their organizational flow. There are some simple steps manufacturers can take to ensure that their oganizational flow is seamless and productive. This includes breaking down steps in the manufacturing process to make sure they’re valuable and efficient. Entities can also reconfigure production steps and ensure workloads are equally distributed. Training employees and creating cross-functional departments is also key for success.

Maintain Flow With a Pull System

The pull system uses a “just in time” approach to product production to ensure that products are created only when they are demanded by consumers. The on-demand approach to product creation retains a high level of quality and service while minimizing waste at the same time. The pull system ensures that the right number of products are created for consumers – not too many, but not too few. In the end, the pull system ensures that customers’ needs are satisfied.

Pursue Perfection

Pursuing perfection is the last of five principles in lean manufacturing. Ultimately, achieving this step means perfecting the previous four steps first. Achieving perfection requires employees to do their part to strive for delivering quality products on demand based on consumers’ needs. Organizations can pursue perfection by finding ways to improve incrementally each day and as a whole.

By applying these principles, entities will create a more effective and efficient organization.