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Lean Manufacturing Tools and Their Effectiveness in Increasing Productivity

The methodology of Lean Manufacturing emphasizes eliminating wasteful processes and increasing productivity. The goal is to produce products and services that add value to the organization and its customers. Thus, organizations’ quality and process improvement initiatives depend on Lean Manufacturing methodology and tools. By implementing the concept of Lean Manufacturing through Lean Manufacturing tools, organizations can achieve better productivity and sustain their growth in the long run.

Lean Manufacturing Tools

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean Manufacturing is a production methodology focusing on reducing waste in business processes and increasing productivity. It is also known as Just in Time Production or TPS (Toyota Production System). This methodology became popular in America through Ford Automobile by introducing the Model T assembly line. Later, Toyota became the market leader in manufacturing cars in the 1950s by adopting the Lean manufacturing principle and Ishikawa’s Total Quality Management ideologies. Therefore, Lean Manufacturing proved it was more than just a methodology to reduce waste and costs in production; it had the strength to make some fundamental changes.

In Japanese, waste is called “Muda.” According to TPS, there are three primary wastes known as the 3 M’s. Besides Muda, Mura is the waste of inconsistency or unevenness, and Muri is the waste of overburden. Muda is any process that does not add value to the business process. There are seven wastes in the Lean Manufacturing process. Through the application of Lean, organizations aim to reduce these seven wastes to increase productivity and attain business objectives.

The seven wastes of Lean Manufacturing are as follows:

  1. Transport: Waste generated through the movement of goods from one location to another.
  2. Inventory: These are wastes created from finished products and raw materials stored in warehouses.
  3. Motion: Waste created from the movement of people or machinery to get the job done.
  4. Waiting: Time spent waiting for tasks or processes to get over creates this type of waste.
  5. Overproduction: Waste generated from the overproduction of unrequired products.
  6. Overprocessing: Waste created by over-processing goods that were not needed.
  7. Defects: These are wastes generated from defective products or goods that did not meet quality standards.

What are the Lean Tools?

Lean Manufacturing tools help organizations apply the Lean Manufacturing methodology and improve overall productivity. They help identify problems, measure performance, evaluate, and formulate suitable solutions. The primary objective of Lean tools is to reduce or eliminate wasteful activities that hinder production. There are over 50 Lean tools that organizations can use in their business processes to attain the desired objectives.
Listed below are the ten best Lean Manufacturing Tools used by organizations that have proven their effectiveness in increasing productivity:

  1. 5S – It is one of the primary Lean Manufacturing tools used in the industry. The 5S stands for:
    • Seiri or Sort – It aims to remove clutter.
    • Seiton or Straighten – It signifies to set in order.
    • Seiso or Sweep – It means to clean everything.
    • Seiketsu or Standardize – It recognizes the importance of introducing standards.
    • Shitsuke or Sustain – It identifies the self-discipline to be practiced for attaining sustainable business.
  1. Bottleneck Analysis – This Lean tool is used to identify and address processes that are causing bottlenecks or obstructions for other functions. Thus, helping productions to resume operations.
  2. Kanban – This Lean Manufacturing tool helps visualize the workflow and plan inventory to optimize the production process.
  3. Kaizen – It focuses on continuous improvement by involving all professionals to work towards a common goal through minor incremental improvements.
  4. JIT – Just in Time is the other primary Lean Manufacturing tool. It emphasizes the customers’ requirements and works towards fulfilling their demands based on when, where, and how much quantity they want of the products.
  5. OEE – Overall Equipment Effectiveness calculates the planned productivity time and establishes its overall accuracy.
  6. PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) – This is a scientific method known as the Deming Cycle. It includes:
    • Plan – Identify processes that need improvement
    • Do – Test its performance
    • Check – Evaluate the results
    • Act – Apply appropriate solutions
  1. Poka Yoke – This is also called mistake or error-proofing. It helps organizations prevent defects by eliminating human errors.
  2. SMED – Single Minute Exchange of Die helps reduce setup times and changeover period of products. Thus, allowing maximum utilization of equipment and thereby reducing the batch size.
  3. Value Stream Mapping – This Lean Manufacturing tool is used to optimize production by visualizing and analyzing the entire process through flow charts or diagrams.


Lean Manufacturing tools can be applied to major industrial sectors, from finance to healthcare. Therefore, aspiring Lean Manufacturing Practitioners need to learn about the various Lean Tools and advance their careers in quality management. Moreover, Certified Lean Manufacturing Practitioners are in much demand in modern organizations striving to exceed their customers’ expectations and gain a competitive advantage in the global market.

Posted in Quality Management

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