LIBERTY ACOUSTICS | Startup Management & Corporate Innovation 

Lean Production: an overview 



What is Lean Production?

The Lean Production method is from the Japanese Automotive manufacturer and the most successful Toyota production system (TPS). The term Lean Production was introduced by James Womack in his book “The Machine that changed the world”. The sole concept of TPS is to improve the productivity by reducing the waste. Lean principle is a continuous improvement process benefiting from every small gradual change rather than implementing a sudden change which could disrupt the work flow. 

Identifying waste

Lean production focuses on optimizing the manufacturing system by eliminating the wastes that are or could hinder the production process. The process or times that do not add value to the customers are called waste. Now, how to identify these wastes? The TPS have already formulated the seven types of waste that are affecting the productivity process. 

1. Transport
: Material movement from Raw material to finished Product
2. Inventory: Piling up Raw material for production rather than pull production
3. Motion: Employer and machine movement
4. Waiting: Time between the production steps from one process to another 
5. Over production: Producing beyond the customer demands 
6. Over processing: working on the Product too much
7. Defect: Production error and repairs


Eliminating Waste and Improving productivity

As the wastes are identified and what can cause for the limitations, Lean methodologies can be applied in order to eliminate the waste thereby optimizing the quality of the product. The main Lean methodologies that could solve the issues are JIT, 5S, Kaizen, VSM and many more. 5S is originated from Japan which goes by Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. The main motive of 5S is to keep the work place organized so that the worker do not need to waste time for the set up every time. The work place should be organized in a way that the unnecessary items should be removed, most used items should be easy to reach and the work place has to be cleaned and all this have to be maintained and followed in a long run. 5S is the methodology for a longer run which can be achieved by a continuous improvement process.  


And next, JIT was formulated by Mr. Talichi ohno as the idea to reduce the inventory waste thereby improving the production. In order to get a clear view on JIT it is necessary to understand about the Takt time. Takt time is the maximum time available for producing the product. For example if a customer wants 100 units in 2 days (2*24*60), then the maximum time available for producing a single product is 28.8 minutes. In order to achieve the Takt time, JIT is used for eliminating the waiting time before and after producing the product by following the one-piece flow method. 

And Kaizen, a continuous improvement method which should be followed by every employee at all levels to achieve the larger goal by the incremental improvements in the manufacturing process. The work flow of Kaizen is 1. Set goals, 2. Document the current status, 3. Identify Wastes, 4. Make changes, 5. Document the new state, 5. Standardize the process, 6. Report and determine the follow-up. This is more or less similar to PDCA cycle which goes by (Plan, Do, Check, Act). Apart from the improvements in the manufacturing side, it also helps the employees to cross-train and improves their knowledge and their perspective. Kanban also originated from the Toyota Production System. Kanban represents the Pull system where the product is made for the demand and not for the forecast which is the standard Push practice. The main prospect of Kanban is to eliminate the wastes without compromising the Quality and not disturbing the Productivity. The main Principle of Kanban is 1. Visualize the work flow, 2. Limit WIP (Work-in-Progress), 3.Manage Flow, 4.Feedback loops, 5. Improve process.  
Apart from 5S, JIT, Kaizen, Kanban there are several methods for optimizing the production in an industry, Poka-Yoke, Work in process, continuous Improvement, Value stream mapping, etc. All these methodologies mainly focus on the primary goals of Lean management: 1 Eliminate waste, 2. Improve Quality, 3. Reduce time. And that can be done by three steps 1.Data collection, 2. Data analysis & development, and 3. Implement change.


Lean production is now widely implemented across all the top companies like Ford, Jaguar knowing the impact that Lean can bring to the Industry. Implementing Lean production is very important for startups because with Lean the Industry can achieve higher Productivity with less scrap, low Inventory, can use the employees to the fuller extent, manufacturing time can be saved, safety of operations and mainly it helps train the workers which again brings success to the industry in the longer run.