Lean Manufacturing


Lean Manufacturing or Production Lean consists in optimizing production efficiency through simplification of the production process. With this way of producing, all unnecessary or inefficient elements are eliminated from the production process. In production planning, therefore, it'll be taken into account that delivery times will be shorter and, in turn, be able to serve customers faster.

The four principles of Lean Management

Lean manufacturing is primarily a strategy. This strategy can be summarized in four principles:

- Minimize waste " reduction of waste of materials and media "
- Just in time production " JIT "
- Kaizen " continuous improvement process "
- Cell production

1. Minimizing waste

The principle of minimizing waste is to eliminate all unnecessary resources. With this you shouldn't think only of materials, but also immaterial elements such as wasted time or work. This principle focuses on limiting seven types of waste, known by TIMWOOD:

- Transportation
- Inventory
- Motion
- Waiting " wait "
- Overprocessing
- Overproduction
- Defects " defects "


The unnecessary transport of the products. Of course, unnecessary transport can be perceived as a waste of time, unnecessary costs and risks of damaging the goods. A company with lean manufacturing considers it very important to limit the transport of items, for example by storing different assembly parts for the same final product near each other in the warehouse. This is often done using the data in the ERP system. Taking into account the information on the final products and their composition, the system can immediately offer an ideal storage location for incoming parts.


Maintaining an inventory that's too large. It may be useful to have certain items permanently in stock, however, an inventory that's too large is counterproductive. Perishable goods are the clearest example of an inventory that quickly becomes unusable, but also sectors with some sensitivity to trends, such as mobile telephony, parts that are in stock quickly become " waste. " When a new model comes out, there may be little demand from the previous article. Therefore, a " too " large inventory also results in the purchase or rental of unnecessary storage space. To avoid unnecessary inventory being acquired, companies often rely on figures on sales trends. This way they can estimate what the customer will buy, and the inventory is adjusted according to the estimate. These figures can be collected in a point of sale " POS " terminal system.


The transfers or unnecessary effort of workers. The movement also costs workers time and energy. It's also a loss that a worker has to travel a long distance between two workplaces several times a day or that he takes a lot of time and physical work to access his material box. By reducing distance and workload, employees spend less time doing homework. In this way, they can perform more tasks in the same period of time.


The unnecessary waiting times for staff. In many companies, workers are still waiting for a long time for an item or another time in the production process. Production planning and more efficient coordination with suppliers can end these waiting times.


The use of techniques or products that are too complex. Quality has priority in producing companies, but cheap or simple materials, tools or techniques can contribute equally well or better. For example, a company that makes a dozen models of plastic cups doesn't need any computer system that can control the production of thousands of designs. This system would be expensive and could even be more complex to use.


An excessive production of the final product. Generally, companies that produce based on a fixed inventory or manufacturing by stock " make to stock " will have to deal with it. Therefore, excessive production means for companies that workers must make a lot of unnecessary effort and that many materials and tools will be used for it. Overproduction also results in excess inventory of the final product.


Defects in production. When a production defect is discovered, both the final product and the time spent are perceived as useless. The production process must be reviewed and the product must be redone. On the other hand, periodic evaluations of the production process and the controls of the final products can take care of detecting " possible " problems more quickly.

2. Just in time production " JIT, just in time method "

The JIT focuses on shortening the delivery times of the products. Often, companies tend to schedule the production of products well before delivery times. In this way they try to limit the risks that arise in unexpected situations and ensure that the items will arrive to the customer on time. In practice, however, this usually results in a vicious circle that increasingly lengthens delivery times. So customers have to wait a long time to receive their orders.

In the method just in time, production goes against large production planning with long delivery times. By scheduling the production of the items shortly before their delivery times, orders can be processed more efficiently and quickly. In many cases, it's more efficient to complete one or two orders within the week, than, for example, to schedule three or four orders simultaneously for two weeks. In this way, employees don't have to continually move from orders to tasks and vice versa. JIT can also contribute to rapid response manufacturing or Quick Response Management " QRM " After all, a change in the wishes and requirements of the customer can be made more easily if the parts of the product haven't been ready for a long time.

3. Kaizen

Kaizen means continuous improvement. With this principle, everyone, not just the management, reflects on the production process and the potential improvements. So employees acquire greater responsibility. This also increases the probability that a " potential " problem will be noticed on time.

4. Cell production

In cellular production, production is divided into specific phases that are performed by a team or cell. The teams work and are responsible for one of the phases. Within teams, the idea is that employees can take different roles. As, for example, that a worker of the motorcycle construction team of a car brand can be replaced by a partner. In this way, the following equipment, that of car mechanics, doesn't have to wait for the engine in question. The different phases may or should be parallel. In this way, the body is made by other equipment, but at the same time as the engine.

Lean management support software

Lean management is itself a strategy. First, it's important for the introduction of Lean management to evaluate existing business processes and approaches. However, the software can help with the implementation of the strategy. There are several ways to perform lean management, specially with the use of ERP.

In the first instance, lean manufacturing is often included in production planning. That means that materials, energy and time are planned more strictly. The amount of margin that's left depends on the wishes of the specific company.

There are also specific tools that focus on lean production. This type of systems determines, for example, the most effective way to produce, sends some orders to the priority list, or directly assigns the most effective tasks to employees at all times. Specially for companies that have many different types of production orders, or that even perform custom work, they often look for such systems. These specific tools can usually also be linked to other central processes of the company through an integration with the ERP system.

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