An organization could benefit from Lean in many ways:

Customer focusFocus on customers, it is much cheaper to satisfy and keep a customer, than to find new ones.
Culture changeChange of culture is critically important and difficult. Satisfied engaged employees will in turn satisfy and delight customers.
CapacityIncrease capacity without addition of equipment or personnel.
EfficiencyGreat improvements in efficiency.
EffectivenessEffectiveness is close to efficiency.
FlexibilityEasy to change directions and respond quickly.
FinancialFinancial benefits can be significant but hard to measure.

Purpose of Lean

The fundamental purpose of Lean is to improve organizational performance by better serving customers, by reducing / eliminating waste, and reducing cycle times, we can reduce errors and respond quickly. Cycle time is defined as from the beginning to the end of a process, including waiting time and other delays.

Removing Wastes

The fundamental definition of waste is anything that does not add value to the product or services. There are 8 major kinds of wastes:

  1. Transportation
  2. Inventory
  3. Motion (operations)
  4. Waiting
  5. Over-production
  6. Over-processing (includes rework)
  7. Defects / Quality
  8. Skills / People (unused creativity and skills)

Involving everyone is sort of unwritten principle of Lean. It helps eliminate the waste of unused creativity and skills. It is also a powerful tool to change organizational culture, to tap into existing organizational knowledge and expertise, and to build commitment and ownership.

Process Analysis

The process analysis starts with the process map and analyze each step by asking question:

  1. Does customer care if we do this step?
  2. Will the process fail if we do not do this step?

Note that legal, regulatory, or other requirements may prevent you from removing a non value-added step. In addition to the 8 wastes, also look for:

  1. Redundant steps
  2. Multiple approvals
  3. Unnecessary inspections

Value Stream Mapping

The purpose of Value Stream Mapping is to identify all of the activities involved in creating a product from your supplier’s supplier to your customer, so the improvement opportunities can be identified. There are 4 major steps:

  1. Identify the product / product family you want to map
  2. Create the current state map
  3. Create a future state map
  4. Develop an action plan to make it happen.

Lean System

There are a few critical elements of a Lean system:

Single minute exchange of dies. Also known as quick changeover.
The faster you changeover a process, the shorter the cycle time will be.
TPMTotal productive maintenance.
A careful system for preventative maintenance,
so that processes are more predictable and reliable.
KanBanIt is not a inventory control system, instead it is a visual production signaling system.
You can determine the status of the system at a glance.
POUSPoint of use storage.
If through the system you can reduce work-in-process inventory adequately,
you can store all of your work-in-process right where it will be used.
This eliminates transportation.


The idea is you get materials and supplies just when you need them, not before; and in the quantities you need not more. You almost can not implement JIT without a Lean system. JIT is to drive improvement. Exposing a JIT system without any process improvement is simply shifting burden and will ultimately disrupt the supply chain.


There are a few rules for KanBan:

  1. Downstream processes withdraw items from upstream processes.
  2. Upstream processes produce only what has been withdrawn.
  3. Only 100% defect free products are sent to the next process.
  4. Establish level production.
  5. Kanbans always accompany the parts.
  6. The number of KanBans is reduced over time.

Poka-Yoke (Mistake proofing)

Poka Yoke is meant to shape behavior at the level of execution. It prevents humans from making mistakes, or at least anticipate and warn of mistakes.

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