Lean Manufacturing stands the test of difficult times

Jan 26


Scott Elliott

Scott Elliott

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Learn more about lean manufacturing, a process management technique, by which you could improve overall customer value by reducing 'waste'.


Lean manufacturing or lean production as it can also be known describes a production practice largely advocated by the Japanese car manufacturer,Lean Manufacturing stands the test of difficult times Articles Toyota, and is widely regarded as a principal factor in the company's development and success.

A production practice that targets the elimination of waste both in materials as well as in labor, lean manufacturing looks upon the use of resources for any goal other then providing outstanding value for the consumer as a form of wastage. The proof of the pudding as far as Toyota is concerned is their outstanding success as a car manufacturer even in today's difficult times.

How it all started

Lean manufacturing began to be a topic for discussion in the early nineteen nineties tanks to a book written on the subject by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. The book was entitled "The Machine That Changed the World" and presented a series of data that was based on their global study of the automotive industry. Along the way, the authors adopted the term "Lean Production" to describe the best practices that they had witnessed amongst the various auto manufacturing plants they had visited especially Toyota of Japan.

What industrialist realized when they began to develop the lean manufacturing philosophy was that, with a little thought and preparation, it could be possible to manufacture a top quality product with a smaller workforce, a smaller footprint as well as considerably reduced running costs. Lean manufacturing methods do not include the raw materials that go into the manufacturing process, and the end result should be a finished product to the highest of standards, produced at a cost level that will make it highly competitive.

When Toyota went lean

Taking the lean manufacturing philosophy a stage or further, Toyota increased the concept towards reducing seven major wastes in their manufacturing and distribution processes. So successful was their concept that other manufacturing concerns also adopted the principal, and today it is in use all over the Western World. The principal behind lean manufacturing is based around accomplishing any task speedily but never sacrificing customer quality. The use of rapid production methods whilst never debasing quality standards make for high production levels and subsequent profits in a healthy market environment.

The flow system

The implementation of a flow system that is the key to successful management of a manufacturing unit through the lean system requires a strict system based approach. Techniques used in a lean production system are known in the lean manufacturing vernacular as Production Leveling, Pull Production and the Heijunka box.

Toyota, like many of the World's leading car manufacturers, is going through some difficult times at the moment. The lessons they have learned and the disciplines that they have imposed on themselves will leave them better placed than many of their competitors to survive this difficult period.