Lean Resources

Lean Resources

What is Lean?

Lean management, originally developed by Toyota, is a method of industrial production, concerning absolute waste reduction. Lean involves using the sheer minimum amount of time, space and inventory required to get the job done to a high standard of quality.

It involves an incredibly intricate and person-centred approach, where the misuse of employee’s talents and skills can impede morale and productivity, another critical form of waste.

To have a lean organisation, it’s imperative to have an all-inclusive production where each individual is focused on achieving continuous improvement, whatever the task.

The immediate control involved with abolishing waste and channelled workforces meant that any problem could be resolved easily and quickly.

The reduction of waste in an organisation leads to the concept of the perfect process. Where the perfect process is based on the idea that waste diminishes value. Having a perfect process means the highest possible value for the customer.

In working toward a lean and efficient organisations, a number of happy accidents were made, which were later developed into the lean principles and systems such as SMED and 5S systems.

Overall when properly applied, Lean is simple, logical, available and most importantly effective.

Lean Techniques

5s Systems

Concerns reducing waste that comes from an unorganised workplace. The 5 S’s are Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.

From sort to sustain it involves removing clutter such as unorganised tools and materials. The tools are then organised according to use in a designated area. It’s essential that the workplace is kept clean at all times.

Such procedures must be implemented every day in order to make them standard practice. The improvement that comes from these procedures provides employees with the motivation to sustain this behaviour and sustain the continuous improvement.


The Japanese word for improvement it implies the continuous improvement of all organisation activities stemming from the employees combined talents and motivation, as well as efficient machinery use and logistics.

One important aspect of continuous improvement is that it’s a step by step process. An example of a step by step measure for continuous improvement is PDCA (Plan, Do, Check Act).

Plan: Develop a plan based on collected data to implement improvement actions or eliminate root causes of problems.

Do: Put the plan into action and measure its effectiveness.

Check: Analyse results against predictions.

Act: Review and assess the plan and repeat if successful.


Kanban is a scheduling system used in conjunction with the Just-In-Time method, focusing on actual customer demands rather than projected demands. It eliminates waste by avoiding over production, and amplifying process improvement.


Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): The key word here is Total, where all aspects of an organisation are focused on improvement such as the workforce including managers and operators alike, as well as machinery.

  • TPM involves ensuring that all operators are properly trained and encouraged to check and maintain their machinery, all throughout the production process.
  • TPM supports a constant while optimal performance of machines, effectively reducing time wasted that would be spent in the event of unexpected machinery failure.
  • The use of the Total production Maintenance supports a production environment where there are zero defects, zero breakdowns and zero accidents.


Single-Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED): With the use of a smaller inventory and smaller lots of production, setup or changeover time can be reduced to below 10 minutes at a minimum.

In modern lean organisations, the changeover times would be a matter of seconds, showcasing the ideal scenario where there is a complete minimisation of time used in production.

SMED is a step by step process involving 7 stages:

Within the 7 stages of SMED, every aspect of changeover time is reviewed to establish what elements can be eliminated, changed or simplified to put improvement of time usage into effect.


Visual Stream Mapping (VSM): The flow chart of lean production highlighting where in either the current or future production processes improvements can be made. This method also proves useful in identifying when and where problems arise within the process.

Visual stream mapping tracts the entire production process from raw materials to the final product. This allows operators to observe the effect of a continuous improvement action on the process as a whole.

Visual stream mapping helps to identify bottlenecks, where in the process that contributes to the limitation of throughput.

The value stream refers to all organisational actions that may add value to the product or produce waste, therefore value stream mapping helps to take into account absolute process waste reduction.

Visual Management

Visual management is the implementation of clear and easily understood visual aids from lean boards to posters.

This allows the communication vital information to all employees at an equal level.

Visual management is one centrepiece of lean manufacturing, as it involve communicating process procedures, production status as well as personnel policies such as health and safety in the workplace.

Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis is a problem solving approach in lean manufacturing, where the operator traces issues or faults back to the root cause.

Once the root cause of the problem is identified, it is either corrected or eliminated, rather than simply addressing the symptoms of the cause.

The method of addressing the root cause ensures that the same problem will not be repeated.

Root cause procedure.

  • Identify the problem
  • Collect all data necessary for analysis.
  • Ask why or how the problem could have occurred and identify the root cause.
  • Establish a solution to the root cause and prevent a future occurrence of the problem.
  • Ensure solutions chosen contribute to the overall objective of continuous improvement.
  • Put resolution plan into place.

Review effectiveness of problem resolution.

Short Interval Control

Short interval control is a continuous improvement technique where a shift is split into short intervals of time, generally starting at about four hours.

In these intervals, production data is analysed to identify any improvement actions that were made, to record and repeat such actions.

Short interval control is also key in ensuring production are not prolonged.

This procedure is effective as decisions are based on the data received rather than opinions and predictions.

This all moves toward a higher quality product and perfect production process.

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