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Lean manufacturing methodologies


Lean manufacturing is one of the most-successful ways to eliminate waste and increase productivity at your company. There are several lean manufacturing methodologies available, here are some of the most popular:

  • 5 "S" Approach
  • Kanban
  • Kaizen
  • Value stream mapping

The 5 "S" Approach

The 5 "S" approach was designed by the Japanese to organize the workplace and eliminate wastes. The 5 "S" approach stands for:

  • Seiri - Sift

  • Seiton - Sort

  • Seiso - Sweep

  • Seiketsu - Sustain

  • Shitsuke - Self-discipline

The 5 "S" approach is a visual method that is used for manufacturing processes down to clerical duties. The first phase entails getting rid of things you don't need. You will simply sift through your desk and keep only what is necessary to perform your job. The sorting phase is designed to simplify your desk and create a place for everything. If you have ever seen a tool board with pictures of the tools that are missing, this is an example of Seiton. Sweeping is used to keep everything clean. When the office is disorganized, it is harder for people to properly perform their job duties; cleanliness helps to remove the clutter. Sustain simply means you need to implement the program company-wide. Self-discipline implies that everyone at the company will continue to follow the program.


Kanban is commonly used as a part of the 5 "S" approach. Kanban is a method of using visual controls to maintain production levels according to customer demand. Kanban is commonly known as a pull method. To understand this, here is a small example of how Kanban is used.

You go to the vending machine and purchase a candy bar, immediately another candy bar is pushed to the row to replace it. This "message" is used to tell the vending machine it is out of stock of the candy bar and it needs to be replaced. The "shipment" of the candy bar was immediate, where some companies have to wait a day to replenish their stock.


Kaizen is another approach that is used to increase productivity within a company by eliminating waste. The Kaizen approach uses 5 different methods to achieve its purpose:

  1. Groups - The goal of the groups are to discuss the quality needs of the company.

  2. Improved Morale - In order to improve production, employee morale must be high. Having strong morale among the workforce is vital to the organization in order to achieve efficiency.

  3. Teamwork - Going along with morale is teamwork. Employees must learn how to get along and enjoy working with one another. Teamwork involves using everyone at the firm and having them think of themselves as members of a team instead of as individual competitors.

  4. Discipline - In order for the Kaizen method to work, each team must be disciplined. Each employee must have a strong commitment to the team discipline in addition to personal discipline. This will help to ensure that the team remains strong.

  5. Suggestions for improvement - The final step involves listening to your employee's suggestions. Gain feedback from each team and carefully consider their suggestions. This helps the management team address all the problems within the organization before they get worse.

Value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is typically used with other lean manufacturing processes like Kaizen. The goal is to identity opportunities to improve your product or service and increase your lead time. The map will show all the steps it takes to develop a product including any delays and the entire process of getting the product to the customer. The map will help you fix the way your production flows and help you find ways to properly implement changes for the future.

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