Lean Systems and Tools

Lean Systems and Tools



Lean Systems and Tools

A. Definitions of Lean

  • Toyota Production Systems: An operating philosophy in which the best quality, cost and delivery of a product or service is achieved through shortening the production flow by eliminating waste.


  • R. Balakrishman: To maintain a continuous flow of products or services in order to flexibly adapt to demand changes. The realization of such flow is called Just-In-Time, which means producing only necessary units in a necessary quantity at a necessary time.
  • NIST/MEP: The systematic approach in identifying and eliminating waste, or non-value added-activities through continuous improvement by moving the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection. (NIST = Nat’l Inst of Standards & Technology; MEP = Manufacturing Extension Partnership)


  • Gemba Research: A strategy for remaining competitive through the endless pursuit of waste elimination.
  • J. Flinchbaugh: Standardized thinking


  • Elimination of 3 M’s: Muda (waste), Mura (inconsistency), Muri (unreasonableness)
  • Womack, Jones, Roos, The Machine that Changed the World
    • Half the hours of human effort in the factory
    • Half the defects in the finished product
    • One-third the hours of engineering effort
    • Half the factory space for the same output
    • A tenth or less of in-process inventories



B. Value Add versus Non Value Add

  • Value Add (VA): anything that changes or further transforms a product, sub-assembly, information or service into something that the customer values


  • Non Value Add (NVA): any activity that absorbs or consumes resources (costs) without creating utility, a.k.a. “waste”
  • Two general ways to enhance profitability: (1) increase sales keeping costs proportionate, (2) keeping sales constant, while lowering costs.

                 Total Cost = VA + NVA

  • This emphasizes the importance of kaizen and the importance of changing the business model from:


Cost + Profit = Price,   to    Price – Cost = Profit

  • Lean is a philosophy which shortens the time between customer order and order response by eliminating waste

C. Eight Wastes


Waste (muda) is anything that does not add value. Waste examples include the production of defective items, delays or late deliveries, unavailable machines due to long set up times, broken down machines, absent employees, incorrect production or purchase quantities, time spent inspecting, too much inventory, etc.

  • Over production – prior to demand
  • Waiting – for information, materials, people, equipment, etc.
  • Transportation – more conveyance than is necessary
  • Over-processing – e.g., any form of inspection
  • Inventories – having more than absolute minimum
  • Motion – more than necessary to complete the task
  • Defects or Rework
  • Knowledge Disconnection – inhibition of knowledge, ideas and creativity flows


    • Overproduction creates excess lead times, increases storage space requirements, and makes defect detection more difficult.
    • Waiting may seem good when it can prevent overproduction, but time not performing a value-adding function can be used to improve the process.


    • Transportation, or moving people or materials may be unavoidable at times due to the prohibitive costs of moving processes closer, but it does not directly add value.
    • Over-processing is analogous to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Processes and equipment should be right-sized for the task.


    • Inventories take up space, increase lead time and discourage root cause detection of problems.
    • Motion, similar to transportation, does not directly add value. Examples of motion include bending, stooping, stretching, reaching, and extra steps.


    • Defects and rework take up capacity (cost) that could otherwise be released.
    • Knowledge disconnection (internal and external) results in unrealized or unutilized creativity, effort, and talent.


D. Lean Rules and Principles

  • Structure Every Activity – each activity should be stable, reliable and repeatable by all (standardized thinking)


  • Clearly Connect Every Supplier and Customer (internal and external) – binary connections, self diagnostic, accountability
  • Specify Every Flow Path – simple and single for material, people and information


  • Improve through Experimentation

E. Lean Practices

  • Directly observe work as activities, connections and flows


      • Reports and measures should assist the assessment and understanding of current performance
      • Leverage the knowledge of those closest to the problem, constraint, bottleneck, or opportunity
      • Use tools to help people see a shared view of current reality
  • Systematic Waste Reduction and Problem Solving


      • Mechanisms for waste reduction and problem solving
      • Regularity, Frequency, and Speed
      • 100% participation?
      • Nothing is sacred (ask 5W2H often)



  • Establish High Agreement


      • Recognize importance of standards (common method or process with clear understanding of importance)
      • Valuing and adopting standards versus our “own” way
      • Dynamically improving standards
  • Creating a Learning Organization


      • Leaders are both learners and teachers, leaders must:

(1) Accept stewardship & responsibility for transformation
(2) Be deeply committed to change
(3) Participate in pursuit of excellence
(4) Overcome cultural resistance; Do not yield to resistance, skepticism, or reluctance

  • Machiavelli: “There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old system and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.”


      • Reflection: plan, attempt, analyze, learn, institute (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
      • Mistakes are learning opportunities

(1) It’s okay to make legitimate mistakes
(2) Problems are exposed because of increased trust
(3) People are not problems, they are problem solvers
(4) Emphasis placed on finding solutions, instead of “who did it?”

      • Frequency of “why”?
      • Feedback mechanisms?
      • Realize change and improvements typically occur slowly and in small steps.
      • Start with change in thinking; then baby steps, pilots, and experimentation
        • Taiichi Ohno: “Begin from need. Whatever keeps you from starting or progressing tells you what to fix first.”


      • Rewards (group and individual) are important (Worker suggestions!)

F. Various Lean Tools

  • Kaizen: a permanent, non-ending sequence of small improvements of operational elements


  • kai = change, modify zen = goodness, virtue
  • Kaizen event is an intense, focused short-term project with an objective of improving a localized process. It typically lasts 3-5 days, involves 5-10 team members doing related work, and may involve some training.


  • Kaikaku event is a radical improvement (BPR) that usually addresses a business process
  • Value Stream Mapping


    • Documents the various process activities (commonly operations, inspection, transportation, storage, and delays) in order to identify opportunities for improvement through waste elimination.
    • Viewing the transformation process and the multiechelon supply chain as a series of process flows connecting inputs to outputs.


    • Idea: when viewing the system (a collection of interrelated elements) as a sequence of steps in a process connecting inputs to outputs, improvement may be found.
    • Typically begins at the “end” with customer demand.


    • “Takt” is the pace of customer requirements.
    • A key to analyzing process flow charts is to ask 5W2H questions or “5 Whys.”




  • Quick Changeover (SMED) of Machines and Cross Trained Workers
  • Reduced changeover time


  • Improved first time capability
  • Workplace Organization: 5 S’s


      • Sift – separate out essential, frequent use items
      • Sweep – remove nonessential, low-use items
      • Sort – arrange and store items, typically near point of use, visual management techniques frequently applied
      • Sanitize – will help make abnormalities apparent
      • Sustain – hardest step is continuous application

Alternatives: sort-set in order-shine-standardize-sustain
Seiri (sort), Seiton (set-in-order), Seison (sweep), Seiketsu (standardize), Shitsuke (sustain)

  • Leveled and Balanced Production


        • Example
  • Pull Approach and Produce/Withdrawal Signal (kanban)


  • Each card commonly notes: (1) item name, (2) item number, (3) from, (4) to, (5) storage location, (6) tote capacity, (7) card number, (8) total number of cards
  • Total Number of Cards =


Demand Rate(Lead Time Length)Safety Stock Factor

Container Size


  • One Piece Flow
  • Audio/Visual Status Signals
  • Error Proofing


a. Jidoka – adding human judgment to automation by giving the operator greater responsibility for solving problems, improving quality and productivity, and authority to stop the process
b. Poka-yoke – visual or mechanical techniques for preventing or detecting defects or problems
c. Andon – visual or physical signal used to communicate status of an operation or process

10. Total Preventive Maintenance and Wellness Program

11. Cellular Configuration (plant within a plant)

12. Standard Work Instructions (SWI’s)

  • An approved method for completing an operation (best practices)
  • A method that assists monitoring and control (posted at work station)
  • Serves as training aid (preferably visual)
  • Facilitates learning (reference document that details work sequence; job layout; time elements; safety)
  • Developed with the operators
  • Enhances quality
  • Requires well understood change process
  • Serves as basis of continuous improvement


13. Greater supplier participation/collaboration

Source: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/Faculty/Fliedner/Lean%20Principles%20and%20Application/Lean%20Systems%20and%20Tools.doc

Web site to visit: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/

Author of the text: indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly. Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use)

The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.


Lean Systems and Tools


The texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.

All the information in our site are given for nonprofit educational purposes


Lean Systems and Tools



Topics and Home
Term of use, cookies e privacy


Lean Systems and Tools