Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply “lean”, is a systematic method for the elimination of waste (“Muda”) within a manufacturing system. Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden (“Muri”) and waste created through unevenness in workloads (“Mura”). Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, “value” is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
Essentially, lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) (hence the term Toyotism is also prevalent) and identified as “lean” only in the 1990s. TPS is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved. The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world’s largest automaker, has focused attention on how it has achieved this success.
The core idea is to Maximize Productivity while Minimizing Waste. Simply, lean means creating more value with fewer resources.
A lean organization understands Production value and focuses on key processes to continuously increase Production. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the production line through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. Lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.
Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points creates processes that need less human effort, space, capital & time to make products & services at far less costs with much fewer defects, compared with traditional production systems. Companies are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, quality, cost, and fast throughput times. With Lean methodology information management becomes much simpler and highly accurate.
Lean methodologies could be applied to every business and every process. It is not a tactic or a cost reduction program; instead it’s a way of thinking and acting for an entire organization. Businesses in all industries, services, including healthcare and government, are using Lean principles for optimum utilisation of their resources.
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