This article explains the philosophy of LEAN Manufacturing in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful quality management tool.
What is LEAN Manufacturing?
LEAN Manufacturing or LEAN Management originates from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. LEAN Manufacturing literally means lean production.
Toyota plays close attention to the proportional relationship between high production and high-quality at low costs, which leads towards an improvement of the operating results. LEAN is sometimes referred to as the Toyota Production System (TPS).
This philosophy targets the prevention and elimination of Muda, the Japanese expression for waste. All that is Muda does not deliver added value.
This management method is often wrongly considered to be a Japanese method. LEAN Manufacturing is largely based on British and American principles (Henry Ford and W. Edwards Deming) which were spread and introduced in Japan through American reconstruction work after the Second World War.
Toyota Production System (TPS), the first foundations of LEAN Manufacturing, was largely developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, and it was further developed by engineer Shigeo Shingo. By applying TPS, Toyota succeeded in reducing cost and thus became one of the top ten of multinational corporations. TPS is considered to be the classic example of the Gemba Kaizen approach that is aimed at production improvement.
In LEAN Manufacturing many established methods are used. All these methods have in common that they aim at identifying problems, eliminating unnecessary steps, combining several steps into one step and the solving and preventing of problems. LEAN Manufacturing is sometimes symbolically represented as a house, based on a solid foundation and built up from all these established methods.
The base of LEAN is formed by a multifunctional team that pre-assesses the used materials and the process. This team consists of several employees from different departments, from production and research to accountants. They have the task to pre calculate the costs of all steps so that it becomes clear where e profits may be gained. In their assessment decisions are considered about make-or-buy or re-engineering.
Toyota especially uses this method fully, because of which Toyota has built up a lead in cost control compared to their competitors. Besides Toyota, several other multinational compan...
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