Blog 24: 14 Principles of Lean Manufacturing (1)


Lean Manufacturing dates to the 1940’s when Taiichi Ohno developed the Toyota Production System. A system that introduced mass production of cars in Japan like the pattern used by the American industries. The word lean was extracted from the book “The Machine That Changed the World” written by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos. This book is an extract of Toyota Production System that how can the Toyota production system be used to remove wastages and can be used for the betterment of industry with using very few resources.

The word Manufacturing is defined as:

“Converting the shape, form, size, looks, by using different value-adding processes on it”

Whereas Lean is defined as:

“Thin, having no fat”

So, combined Lean manufacturing is defined as:

“A set of tools or methodologies that aim for continuous elimination of all waste in the production process and creating an optimum solution”

Lean Manufacturing basically deals with the process or ways for the elimination of 3 types of wastages

  • Process Wastages (Muda)
  • Over Burden of work (Muri)
  • Unevenness of work (Mudi)

Basically, Lean manufacturing makes the process value-adding by removing all non-value-adding processes.

History of lean manufacturing

The origin of the Toyota production system dates to the twentieth century. Taiichi Ohno is known as the pioneer of lean manufacturing. He was the one to give birth to Toyota Production System.

It all started when Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motor Company, shifted from the textile industry to the automobile industry. He found out that there were many problems in their manufacturing system. In 1936 he got his first truck project from the Japanese government. His manufacturing system faced new difficulties and problems and that’s when they started using Kaizen in his company. During the war, the economy of japan was very low and there the mass production concept was not in favor.

Seen and visiting the US supermarkets, Taiichi Ohno came to learn that the production schedules should not be run based on the targets but rather it should run based on the order. That’s when the pull system (make-to-order) system came into being. He later applied this system to the Toyota motor company and that’s how Toyota Production System came into being.

The machine that changed the world, the book written by Jim Womack was based on the history of automobile industries and has a comparative study of Japanese, European and American automotive industry plants. The one thing that was different than the term Lean Manufacturing was used for the first time. The word lean manufacturing caught many people’s eye and is now being used in different parts of the world in multiple industries.

Lean tools and techniques:

Following are the lean building blocks or lean tools that are used in the implementation of the lean process in a company.

5S System

The 5S is a lean manufacturing tool that helps in eliminating waste and improving workplace efficiency. It creates such an environment where achieving greater standardization and work efficiency is possible, all while reducing costs and boosting productivity.


The word 5s was generalized during the 1980s as a part of the Toyota production system. It was identified as the technique that enabled in just in time manufacturing.

The five S’s

The five steps to be considered in a 5S system include the following:

SEIRI (Sort):

SEIRI is a Japanese word that means “Sort”. Sort means Removing unnecessary items from the workplace. This can be done properly by making different color tags for different categories of stuff and attaching these removable tags to the items. This helps to categorize the stuff around you into three categories Necessary, Unnecessary and might be used. Some of the advantages of Sorting are:

  • Place becomes clean
  • Easy to find the stuff hence time is saved
  • Wastage removal
  • Save valuable space
  • The room becomes arranged and organized
  • You will know about the capacity of your things for what you have and what you don’t

SEITON (Set in order):

SEITON is a Japanese word meaning to set things in order. Customizing the workplace by keeping important items nearby and implementing visual organization to the workflow to improve efficiency. It basically means to keep the things that are most frequently used by the user close to him so that he does not have to move around to get the stuff. Some of the advantages of Sort are:

  • Time-saving
  • Keep track of material
  • Saving of effort
  • Your stuff will be organized
  • Your efficiency of work will increase

SEISO (Shine):

SEISO is a Japanese word meaning “SHINE”. Shining means a thorough cleaning of the tools, machinery, area, and other equipment. It basically means to ensure that the stuff is oiled, cleaned, and returned to its nearly new shape. This process should not be a one-time thing, rather it should be done on a regular basis after a specific period. The advantages of shining are:

  • Life of tools, machinery and equipment increase
  • Oiled and greased machinery will work properly and hence reduce one’s effort
  • The efficiency of work will increase
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work
  • Prevent machinery and equipment from deterioration

SEIKETSU (Standardize):

Standardization is one of the most important steps of not only 5s but also Lean manufacturing. it basically means establishing a standardized and consistent workflow by assigning tasks and creating schedules, so that everyone knows what to do. Standardization can not only be applied to the workers but also on the tools machinery and the working environment. There are standards available for everything, so we must use them for properly standardizing the stuff. Some advantages of standardization are:

  • Maintain high standards in the workplace always
  • Standard makes it easy for workers to move in a different area
  • Easy to detect any abnormalities as workers will be trained
  • They can overcome abnormalities as they know the standard procedure
  • A good company reputation will be maintained

SHITSUKE (Sustain):

SHITSUKE is a Japanese word meaning “Sustain”. It is one of the most important and the most difficult steps of Lean manufacturing. It means ensuring to maintain all the above steps so that the 5S system is sustained for a longer term. 5s basically is not a one-time activity and should be done on a regular basis to keep the production smooth, and proper and to get the best result for that sustaining is the most important thing. For that regular audits and reviews should occur. The worker should also take responsibility to follow the rules. Follow the 4 above 5s steps. Some of the advantages of sustaining are:

  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Workers become trained
  • Maintain high standards of the company in the market
  • Production standards increase for the company
  • The product quality increase

Benefits of 5S

By implementing an appropriate system of the 5S tool, an organization can be benefited in a lot of ways. For example:

  • Improved costs: Reduce costs by streamlining labor costs, and ultimately improve quality.
  • Safer workplace: Improve safety by keeping the workplace clean and organized.
  • Fewer defects: Error reduction can be made possible by making it easier to identify and solve problems.
  • Better communication: Ensure that the workers know everything to operate efficiently by creating a visual 5S document on a bulletin board.

The cost involved in implementing 5S

Implementing the 5S system involves the least of costs, such as:

  • Training employees
  • Cleaning and organizing the workplace
  • Labeling, floor-marking, and shelving


It is a Japanese word in which KAI means “Change” and ZEN means “Good” so overall kaizen means change for better or improvement. Kaizen refers to any improvement, one at a time or continuous, large or small. Kaizen requires the involvement of the whole company from the workers to the management everyone can help in kaizen. These small changes can help in the improvement of productivity which results in a major change. It aims to eliminate waste hence it has been applied to many organizations. Like healthcare, banking, pharmaceutical, automotive industry etc.


The concept of kaizen was developed during world war II, especially for small setup work improvement. Instead of encouraging large changes to achieve desired goals the TWI (training within the industry). Recommend that company should introduce small improvements. That could be implemented on the same day because during world war II there was neither time nor resources for the production of war equipment. This revolutionary concept became very popular in Japan in the 1950s and continues to exist in the form of Kaizen groups as well as similar worker participation schemes. The term Kaizen became famous around the world through the works of Masaaki Imai.

Masaaki Imai was a Japanese organizational theorist and management consultant, known for his work on quality management, specifically on Kaizen. Masaaki Imai published two fundamental books on business process management “Kaizen: Japanese spirit of improvement” (1985), which helped popularize the Kaizen concept in the West, and Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management (1997).


Two kaizen approaches have been discussed:

  • Flow kaizen
  • Process kaizen

Flow kaizen incorporates the proper layout or reorganization of an entire production area or even a company. Whereas process kaizen deals with improving individual work stand, i.e. improving the way the workers do their jobs. For continuous improvement, both flow and process kaizen are used. In this type of kaizen model, the operators look for small ideas which can be implemented on the same day. It is in contrast with the traditional model in which the time between concept development and project implementations is very large. It is a process when done properly humanize the workplace, eliminates muri, and teaches people how to learn to spot waste and eliminate it. This leads to increase productivity.


In case of any abnormality during process, an improvement is suggested that may initiate a kaizen. The cycle for kaizen activity is called PDCA or Shewhart cycle or Deming cycle and is defined as:


5 whys are the technique that is used with PDCA. Which is a form of root cause analysis in which a user asks for a series of 5 whys to identify a failure and its cause.

Implementation of Kaizen is based on 4 steps

  • Observe
  • Explore
  • Apply
  • Adapt


              Observe means looking for places for a small improvement. Every place has room for improvement. This process should not only be applied by the higher authorities or the managers but also by workers. The observer should not hesitate in giving ideas to the concerned authorities. Look for improvement that can be done in one day.


              After the idea is generated the concern people should explore how to correct it. Look for options based on their priorities (Cost, benefit etc). Find out the solution to the problem. Research work is carried out to find the optimal solution for the problem, which will save time money, and effort and will be effective.


             After finding the best possible solution for the concern problem then comes the time to apply the process for the curing of the problem.  For that groundwork is done as to how to apply the process, take the help of workers, stop the process and apply the procedure.


Then comes the last stage of adaptation. At first adaption to the new change would be difficult but slowly and gradually the workers will adapt to the new environment. And then the cycle will again start for further improvement.


  • The following are the advantages of Kaizen.
  • Reduce waste
  • Product Quality improves
  • Increase Teamwork
  • Better understanding between the workers and the authority
  • Increase efficiency
  • Employees will be satisfied
  • Improvement in the safety of workers


Kanban basically means sign boards. Basically, Kanban is a scheduling system for lean manufacturing system. It is basically an inventory controlling system to control supply chain management. Kanban was basically developed by Taiichi Ohno for increasing the efficiency of manufacturing.

It became the most effective tool to be used. One of the best things about Kanban was that it tells us about the upper limit of the work-in-progress inventory, so we do not overload our inventory. Kanban basically works based on signals that allow different people to communicate with each other. This communication may be of a different type, if a worker works in progress inventory is about to end he may give a signal, or if some worker’s machine stops working he may use this signal to tell the maintenance department where the problem occurs etc.

History of KANBAN

In the late 1940s, A better engineering process was founded by Toyota. They noticed that store members restocked their items by their store’s inventory only when the item was near the sellout did the clerks order more. For rethinking their methods delivery process JUST–IN–TIME sparked by Toyota engineers. The Kanban system would match their inventory with demands and achieve a higher level of quality.

Kanban is Japanese for visual signal Toyota workers used a Kanban to signal steps in their manufacturing process. The system allows the worker to easily understand and communicate the overall process which helped to minimize waste.

How KANBAN Works

It starts your brain.

Kanban helps you by using the power of visual information to create a picture of your work.

Visualize work

Observe the flow of work by creating a visual model of your work through your Kanban system. By using blockers, bottlenecks, and queues for making their work visible.

Limit work in progress

You can minimize the time taken by item to travel through the Kanban system and u can also reduce the need to constantly reprioritize items.

Focus on flow

You can optimize the smooth flow of work by using work-in-process limits and team policies.

Continuous improvement  

Teams measure their effectiveness by the flow of work, quality, lead time, and more. Experiments can change the system to improve the team’s effectiveness.

KANBAN Example

Time-driven KANBAN Example

Using the Kanban board, you can easily prioritize your work and schedule it for the next weeks, months, and days. Time-driven workflow is the perfect replacement for your calendar.

Benefits of Kanban

  • Shorter cycle times can deliver features faster.
  • Responsiveness to Change.
  • When priorities change very frequently, Kanban is ideal.
  • Balancing demand against throughput guarantees that most customer-centric features are always being worked.
  • Requires fewer organization/room set-up changes to get started
  • Reducing waste and removing activities that do not add value to the team/department/organization
  • Rapid feedback loops improve the chances of more motivated, empowered, and higher-performing team members

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *