Lean Manufacturing is the generic name given to the Toyota Production System that focuses on enhancing the use of value adding resources by the elimination of wasteful activities. The lean approach can yield significant improvements in efficiency in manufacturing processes, reducing costs, improving flexibility and delivering gains to the bottom line.
Lean manufacturing will benefit most businesses irrespective of size and maturity, however the approach to a successful implementation must consider those factors and be adapted accordingly.
While the lean principle is a holistic approach to developing a manufacturing organisation, it can be broken down to the key areas below:
- Develop self co-ordinating teams, consisting of highly qualified and competent staff, focussed on continuously improving the productive activities assigned to them. The teams replace hierarchical structures based on division of work.
- Focus on the value added by activities and driving out waste.
- Suppliers are not considered to be external to the conversion process, nor as being easily replaced, rather the supplier is regarded as part of the value adding process, and part of organisation.
- Following the principles of Just In Time (JIT).
TWI carries out full process reviews of Members' manufacturing operations and develops action plans in collaboration with relevant staff that embeds Lean principles and foster the necessary culture for change and continuous improvement.
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Bicheno, J., Cause and Effect JIT: The Essentials of Lean Manufacturing, 2nd Edition, PICSIE Books, Buckingham, England, 1994 (ISBN 0 9513829 5 0)
Womack, J.P. and Jones, D.T, Lean Thinking, Simon & Schuster, New York, USA, 1996 (ISBN 0-684-81035-2)
The European Handbook of Management Consultancy, Oak Tree Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1995 (ISBN 1-86076-010-4)