5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Optimize productivity. Minimize inefficiency and waste. No one in manufacturing, or really any industry, would argue with these two directives. Yet, how do you accomplish both? In manufacturing, it’s done through what we refer to as Lean Manufacturing.

When adopted, Lean Manufacturing principles are what will ultimately enable manufacturers to appropriately plan and position processes, materials, machines, equipment, people, manufacturing support functions, and facilities most efficiently and effectively. 

Most importantly, Lean principles are customer-centric. The end game: satisfied clients and customers.

5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

1. Identify Customer Value

The first of the five principles of Lean Manufacturing is to review each family of products and determine a specific value for each of those products’ end customers.

2. Map the Value Stream

Lean principles require that each step of the value stream for each product family is identified. Whatever does not represent value to your customers – and this applies throughout the process – should be eliminated.

3. Create Maximum Flow for the Customer

The third of the five principles of Lean determine the steps that will result in creating value in a tight sequence (otherwise known as a Just-in-Time, or JIT, inventory system). This best aligns raw material orders with production schedules; and therefore, products flow more seamlessly to the customer.

4. Establish Pull

As flow becomes optimized, you’re able to let customers “pull” their desired products and quantities as needed – at just the right time. This itself creates great value for your customers.

5. Seek Perfection

Continuous improvement is a key tenet of lean manufacturing, and #5 of Lean principles is the ultimate goal. It’s similar to the concept of lifelong learning in education. Each time you restart the process, you’ll be integrating prior learnings that will lead to, if not perfection, something pretty close. 

Essentially, Lean Manufacturing principles should result in a more efficient delivery of high-quality products while simultaneously eliminating any part of the production process that creates waste. They should apply to all aspects of manufacturing – cross-functionally — throughout the organization.

An example of how Manex Consulting implemented the five principles of Lean can be illustrated by one of our clients in the high-tech industry, Z-World. A pioneer in the embedded controls industry, Z-World engaged us to help them meet the challenges of exponential yearly growth of over 30%. In order to keep up with customer demand and relieve pressure on manufacturing operations, Z-World needed to improve both workflow and efficiency.

Manex was brought in to guide Z-World’s management team in reengineering manufacturing processes. Z-World represented a clear case of where implementing the 5 Lean principles would lead to the transformation necessary to achieve the desired results. 

Initially, Manex conducted a two-day Kaizen Event with Operations management and staff (Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy term for continuous improvement, also one of the principles of Lean). Areas of improvement were determined through the five Lean manufacturing principles, including Value Stream Mapping, as well as 5S methods (also a Japanese business method whose goal is efficiency and effectiveness: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain).

Once areas of improvement were identified, the recommended changes were implemented. The results were a streamlined process, improved productivity, and an organization that embraced the Lean principles by experiencing firsthand the results they could generate.

Specifically, in Z-World’s case, the 5 principles of Lean resulted in:

  • A 30% improvement in workflow in the receiving and inspection departments
  • An 80% improvement in locating testing units in the final test stage
  • A 50% improvement in efficiency in wave soldering 

Clearly, when combined and integrated properly throughout the manufacturing process, the five principles of Lean will deliver higher value to your customers by doing the right thing at the right time, with less. It really is a matter of principle.

Need help with Lean training or implementation? Contact Manex at 925-807-5100, or send an email to info@manexconsulting.com.

Manex’s expert team of Lean consultants for manufacturers is the most hired in Northern California. Lean manufacturing consulting is among Manex’s top areas of expertise. We bring to your team specific skills in analysis, and advise you on small or major adjustments to streamline your manufacturing processes. We work closely with your management team to teach them how to increase your return on investment (ROI) while also training them in effective Lean methods.

Ultimately, our intent is to quickly achieve cost efficiencies and increased profits for your manufacturing business.