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Lean Manufacturing Principles

Tools, Techniques, Definitions, Explanation


Lean means "manufacturing without waste." Waste ("muda" in Japanese) has many forms. Material, time, idle equipment, and inventory are examples. Most companies waste 70%-90% of their available resources. Even the best  Lean Manufacturers probably waste 30%.

Lean Manufacturing and Cellular Manufacturing improve material handling, inventory, quality, scheduling, personnel and customer satisfaction. For examples and hard numbers on these improvements see Benefits. The payoff to shareholders is significant and documented. A history of these developments is at "A Brief History of (Just In) Time."

Core Disciplines

download leanMost waste is invisible. Nor is elimination easy. A set of techniques  that identify and eliminate waste has evolved: "Lean Manufacturing."

Cellular Manufacturing

Pull Scheduling (Kanban)

Six Sigma/Total Quality Management

Rapid Setup

Team Development

These are core disciplines. Not every organization requires them all. Others require supplementary disciplines. Determining which disciplines are most important and/or urgent is the subject of our Lean Implementation series. You may also find our series on Leadership useful. 


Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping are two valuable tools that can help eliminate waste and streamline work. Group Technology can sort out workflow in complex product mixes. Other analysis tools are also available.Inventory Storage


Besides core disciplines and tools, there is an overall theme of inventory reduction.  Inventory hides waste. Almost every imperfection or problem creates a need for inventory.  Hence, inventory is a result and measures the imperfection of the system.

Human Side of LeanPeople & Technology

Factories include people. To function well, people and technology must integrate in a system exploiting the  strengths and minimizing the limitations of each component. Every core discipline has a psychological component. Eric Trist called this a Socio-Technical System. 

The Systems Perspective

systems thinkingThe core disciplines are interdependent. Each acts upon and improves the others in a continuous "Virtuous Circle". Over time, this reinforcement  builds momentum like a snowball rolling downhill. Results for the system are greater than the separate effects. For more, see "Manufacturing As A System."

Science Vs. Slogans

Strategos prefers a scientific and engineering perspective rather than slogans, edicts, imitation and proselytizing. Science necessarily includes the human disciplines since all factories are Socio-Technical Systems.

This allows us to carry principles into new and different industries where there are no examples to copy. See our page on Factory Science.

"...the tools and artifacts were developed to deal with very particular problems that were affecting people in very particular circumstances. Working under different circumstances presents different problems, which requires different tools and different thinking." So says Steven Spear of Harvard who wrote "Decoding The DNA of the Toyota Production System."

Using This Site

Download Logo You will find useful information and tools here. The "Resources" section has various Lean Manufacturing articles, information and perspectives. For example, the "Assessment" helps determine your current position. 

The training section details Strategos programs and Kaizen Events. It can assist you in grasping the body of required knowledge. You might also want to visit the page on "Developing Your Training Plan.   "About Strategos" outlines our approach and tells you about the Strategos team. You may Download an expanded & Printer-Friendly Version of This article in PDF.


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Value Stream & Process Mapping

The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader how to do it and what to do with it.

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