Tools to Acheive LEAN Manufacturing

Anything that does not add value is waste -- and must be reduced or eliminated...

In order to achieve Lean manufacturing, many different tools have been created. Most of these tools concentrate on only a single aspect of lean production. In many cases, some of the tools overlap -- and not all tools are applicable to all situations.

One of the strengths of a Lean Manufacturing program is the availability of these formalized tools, which include:

  • Just in Time (JIT) is an inventory strategy that strives to improve a business's return on investment by reducing in-process inventory and associated carrying costs. To meet JIT objectives, the process relies on signals between different points in the process, which tell production when to make the next part. JIT Signals are usually 'tickets' but can be simple visual signals, such as the presence or absence of a part on a shelf. Implemented correctly, JIT can dramatically improve a manufacturing organization's return on investment, quality, and efficiency.

  • 5-S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five words that begin in the letter "S:"
  • Sort -- Organize the workspace
  • Stabilize -- Orderliness, a place for everything, and everythin in its place
  • Shine -- Keeping the workplace clean and shined
  • Standardize --Use established standards, and make the standards clear and obvious
  • Sustain -- Stick to the 5S rules
  • A 6th S is often added: Safety

  • Mistake-Proofing is a Lean Manufacturing concept that helps an equipment operator avoid mistakes. Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. Originally, it means designing the process so that all parts are keyed, so that mistakes cannot happen -- since there is only one way to put the two parts together.

    More broadly, the term can refer to any behavior-shaping constraint designed into a product to prevent incorrect operation by the user.

  • Takt time can be defined as the maximum time per unit allowed to produce a product in order to meet demand. It is derived from the German word Taktzeit which translates to cycle time. Takt time sets the pace for industrial manufacturing lines. In automobile manufacturing, for example, cars are assembled on a line, and are moved on to the next station after a certain time - the takt time. Therefore, the time needed to complete work on each station has to be less than the takt time in order for the product to be completed within the alloted time.

  • Production Leveling is a technique for reducing the waste, and vital to the development of production efficiency. The general idea is to produce intermediate goods at a constant rate, to allow further processing to be carried out at a constant and predictable rate. Ideally production can easily be leveled where demand is constant but in the real world where actual customer demand appears to fluctuate two approaches have been adopted in lean: Demand leveling and production leveling through flexible production.

  • Autonomation means that if an abnormal situation arises the machine stops and the worker will stop the production line. Autonomation prevents the production of defective products, eliminates overproduction and focuses attention on understanding the problem and ensuring that it never recurs. It is a quality control process that applies the following four principles:
  • Detect the abnormality.
  • Stop.
  • Fix or correct the immediate condition.
  • Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure.

  • 5 Whys is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem. Essentially, one asks "Why?" five time, each question probing deeper, until the underlying root cause is discovered.

  • Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) is one of the many lean production methods for reducing waste in a manufacturing process. It provides a rapid and efficient way of converting a manufacturing process from running the current product to running the next product. This rapid changeover is key to reducing production lot sizes and thereby improving flow.

    The phrase "single minute" does not mean that all changeovers and startups should take only one minute, but that they should take less than 10 minutes (in other words, "single digit minute"). Closely associated is a yet more difficult concept, One-Touch Exchange of Die, (OTED), which says changeovers can and should take less than 100 seconds.

  • Cycle Time Variation is a proven metric and philosophy for continuous improvement with the aim of driving down the deviations in the time it takes to produce successive units on a production line.

    Cycle Time Variation supports organizations' application of lean manufacturing by eliminating wasteful expenditure of resources. It is distinguished from some of the more common applications by its different focus of creating a structure for progressively reducing the sources of internal variation that leads to workarounds and disruption causing these wastes to accumulate in the first place. Although it is often used as an indicator of lean progress, its use promotes a structured approach to reducing disruption that impacts efficiency, quality, and value.

  • Value Stream Mappingis a lean manufacturing technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer. The steps include:
  • Identify the target product, product family, or service.
  • Draw a current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays, and information flows required to deliver the target product or service. This may be a production flow (raw materials to consumer) or a design flow (concept to launch). There are 'standard' symbols for representing supply chain entities.
  • Assess the current state value stream map in terms of creating flow by eliminating waste.
  • Draw a future state value stream map.
  • Implement the future.
  • Contact Info:




    William S. Howard
    President, Stability Technology, Inc.

    (770) 331 - 2283