Lean Manufacturing

All articles about: Lean Manufacturing

Growing sustainably with Lean Thinking
December 8, 2023
Growing sustainably with Lean Thinking

CASE STUDY – The story of Norwegian furniture manufacturer Haugstad Møbel that, thanks to Lean Thinking, was able to transform its culture and unlock the potential of sustainable growth.

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Swimming against the tide
October 19, 2023
Swimming against the tide

WEB SERIES - In this episode, we head to Chilean Patagonia to visit a manufacturer of fish feed that turned to Lean Thinking to improve yield and eliminate inventory gaps and stock-outs.

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Don’t just watch my hands!
August 4, 2023
Don’t just watch my hands!

FEATURE – The author shares a story from a training session at the gemba, which contains a couple of important lessons on the Training Within Industry method.  

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Leveraging lean to create a new product… and process
April 14, 2023
Leveraging lean to create a new product… and process

INTERVIEW – In 2020, GE Appliances had to stand up a brand-new assembly process for a new dishwasher. The leader responsible for the program explains how LPPD helped them to get it right.

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Transforming quickly, but mindfully
September 6, 2022
Transforming quickly, but mindfully

CASE STUDY – Starting in January this year, the Mexican plant of this manufacturer of lighting and electrical solutions has initiated a lean transformation that has already led to impressive results in terms of productivity.

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An eye for improvement
June 21, 2022
An eye for improvement

INTERVIEW – At last month’s International Lean Summit in Hungary, our editor sat down with the manager of a CooperVision site that is gradually converting its operations to make them leaner.

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Whittle by whittle
June 3, 2022
Whittle by whittle

CASE STUDY – This Dutch SME is transforming its picking operation – partly with the introduction of a U-shaped design – to increase the number of orders it can fulfil every day.

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Turning around our quality
March 3, 2022
Turning around our quality

CASE STUDY – For the past year, Elementia Materiales, a producer of materials for the construction industry, has begun a lean journey that’s already brought impressive quality results.

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Our hoshin journey
February 21, 2022
Our hoshin journey

FEATURE – This Siemens Group-owned medium-sized manufacturer of electrical low-voltage devices has been experimenting with hoshin kanri. In this article, they share their experience and lessons learned.

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'Fruitful' lean work
January 31, 2022
'Fruitful' lean work

CASE STUDY – This Chilean agrobusiness company achieved great results in a very short time by applying lean to standardize its processes and improve its productivity. They are now berry fond of the methodology.

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Lean on the agenda
January 20, 2022
Lean on the agenda

FEATURE – This Brazilian manufacturer was able to achieve significant improvements in its processes in just one week thanks to kaizen.

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What to do when the fire is out?
October 14, 2021
What to do when the fire is out?

CASE STUDY – This packaging company in Catalonia has been able to cleverly balance the resolution of urgent problems and the advancement of the lean transformation. But what to do when the burning platform is no more?

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Bringing Dantotsu quality improvement to parts makers
August 12, 2021
Bringing Dantotsu quality improvement to parts makers

FEATURE – Improving supplier quality and reduce defects was an important part of Toyota Industries Corporation’s (TICO) Dantotsu activities since the very beginning. In this article, the author visits two parts suppliers.

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The way to radical lean
August 2, 2021
The way to radical lean

FEATURE – Reflecting on Nomura-san’s recently published book on radical quality improvement, the author encourages us to embrace the spirit of “Dantotsu” to meet the challenges we face as a society.

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Superior quality to beat the competition
July 15, 2021
Superior quality to beat the competition

FEATURE – Today we repurpose a great article published in 2016 on Japanese industry magazine Kojo Kanri that focuses on radical quality improvement at Toyota Industries Corporation.

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How Dantotsu helped us to radically improve our quality
July 8, 2021
How Dantotsu helped us to radically improve our quality

INTERVIEW – The former executive of the Toyota Material Handling plant in Italy reflects on how Sadao Nomura’s “Dantotsu” method helped them to drastically improve quality.

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People, invention, and radically great quality
July 1, 2021
People, invention, and radically great quality

FEATURE – The authors discuss radical quality improvement at Toyota and introduce a new book by Sadao Nomura that the Lean Global Network has just co-published.

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7 tools to establish pull production
May 20, 2021
7 tools to establish pull production

FEATURE – Kanban is the best-known method to establish pull production, but it is not the only one. Here’s a few other ways you can create a pull system.

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When digitalization reaches the gemba
May 3, 2021
When digitalization reaches the gemba

FEATURE – During a recent Jishuken workshop, Poland-based Schumacher Packaging experimented with a newly-developed App to quickly create standardized work instructions at the gemba.

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Pull: a way forward for supply chains
April 26, 2021
Pull: a way forward for supply chains

FEATURE – The release of Christoph Roser’s new book All About Pull inspires John Shook to discuss the origins and true meaning of “pull” and why it is incorrect to blame JIT for the shortcomings of global supply chains.

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The 19 billion doses challenge
April 14, 2021
The 19 billion doses challenge

FEATURE – What does it take to meet the historic challenge of rapidly increasing the annual global vaccine capacity from 5 billion to 19 billion doses? And how could Lean Thinking help?

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Kamishibai for better conversations at the gemba
March 29, 2021
Kamishibai for better conversations at the gemba

FEATURE – How do kamishibai boards work and what sort of benefits can they bring to a lean transformation? The author discusses what he saw on a recent gemba walk.

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'Steel' going strong
March 1, 2021
'Steel' going strong

FEATURE – With the help of Lean Thinking, this Ukrainian producer of stainless steel pipes is retaining its competitive position against larger players in the market.

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The J-Cost theory
February 4, 2021
The J-Cost theory

FEATURE – The approach described here, first adopted by this Chinese company, directly connects the daily work in manufacturing with an organization’s financial results.

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The synchronization of material flow with demand
January 18, 2021
The synchronization of material flow with demand

FEATURE – Aligning supply flows with demand is crucial to success, but it can be complicated. Lean Thinking can help us identify the strategy and sequence of activities that we need to make it a reality.

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Lean ASAP!
November 2, 2020
Lean ASAP!

CASE STUDY – Some blamed lean for the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in first wave of the pandemic. This small Norwegian producer of disposable bedsheets used it to establish and ramp up the production of medical gowns for healthcare workers.

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The “mangineer” and people development
September 24, 2020
The “mangineer” and people development

FEATURE – Sometimes you just need to get creative: as part of its flexible manufacturing model, Esquel introduced a new role on its shop floor – the “mangineer”.

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30 years since Machine came out - Part 1
August 31, 2020
30 years since Machine came out - Part 1

INTERVIEW – In the fall of 1990, a book was published that would kickstart a revolution in business. This week we are catching up with the authors to understand where we are and where we are headed. First up, Daniel Jones.

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Smooth as silk
August 20, 2020
Smooth as silk

CASE STUDY – An Esquel factory in GuiLin, China injected lean principles and practices into its processes to become more efficient and environmentally-friendly.

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Changing our minds to change our business
July 30, 2020
Changing our minds to change our business

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – It can take time to challenge our misconceptions and set off on a lean journey. Once we get it, however, it’s hard to stop the improvements, as this French company found out.

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Facing the crisis with an appetite for improvement
May 6, 2020
Facing the crisis with an appetite for improvement

NOTES FROM THE VIRTUAL GEMBA – Despite a 40% drop in sales and the looming prospect of having to furlough part of its staff, this French company is finding in lean manufacturing an ally to fight the current crisis.

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Learning fast in the crisis
April 15, 2020
Learning fast in the crisis

NOTES FROM THE (VIRTUAL) GEMBA – This small manufacturer is relying on Lean Thinking to keep the business running during the Covid-19 crisis, overcome the disruption in its supply chain, and even innovate.

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Facing the emergency
April 1, 2020
Facing the emergency

NOTES FROM THE (VIRTUAL) GEMBA – In this new series - one new article every week during the Covid-19 crisis) - the author asks companies how they are reacting to this health emergency. First up, Proditec.

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Immunity
March 19, 2020
Immunity

CASE STUDY – This Italian manufacturer has found in lean a way to ensure business continuity and provide support to a distraught workforce in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Half the bad, double the good
January 20, 2020
Half the bad, double the good

CASE STUDY – The story of this Norwegian window and door manufacturer shows how a deep and ongoing commitment to a lean transformation can help a company thrive against all odds.

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Bringing lean to the people
December 16, 2019
Bringing lean to the people

CASE STUDY – This article briefly outlines the different stages of the lean transformation at Mercedes Benz Brazil, as the company looked for the best approach to engage everyone in continuous improvement.

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The gateway to success
November 11, 2019
The gateway to success

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – By introducing flow in its processes and transforming its approach to managing the business, this French manufacturer of fences and gates is building a competitive advantage.

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A journey of mind-blowing improvement
October 3, 2019
A journey of mind-blowing improvement

CASE STUDY – Seven years ago, this Italian manufacturer ran an experiment to reduce inventory in its warehouse. Today, lean thinking permeates every aspect of life at FPZ.

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Leadership development at Volvo Cars
September 16, 2019
Leadership development at Volvo Cars

CASE STUDY – What is the approach to people development used at Volvo Cars? The authors explain how the organization has created a production system fully owned by operators and managers.

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A sense of heritage in an uncertain world
July 30, 2019
A sense of heritage in an uncertain world

FEATURE – In a market where products become obsolete very fast, this Toyota supplier has learned the importance of staying true to its heritage and developing know-how and people’s capabilities.

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Cancelling the distance
July 16, 2019
Cancelling the distance

CASE STUDY – What to do when you operate in a competitive market and are located in a remote corner of Europe, thousands of miles from your customer? One word: lean.

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Industry 4.0 or Lean 4.0?
May 28, 2019
Industry 4.0 or Lean 4.0?

INTERVIEW – Atlantis Foundries was able to achieve zero defects for three months in a row thanks to machine learning. Here’s why the human component can’t be discounted.

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The energy to get things done
March 7, 2019
The energy to get things done

FEATURE – When people become enthusiastic about improvement work, there's no limit to what can be achieved. Join the author on a visit to a Finland-based manufacturer, whose lean efforts range from production to customer service.

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Detecting improvement opportunities
February 19, 2019
Detecting improvement opportunities

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – A culture in which problems are tackled as soon as they appear and the production and product development teams work closely together is helping this French healthcare technology company to thrive.

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Quality by kaikaku
December 13, 2018
Quality by kaikaku

CASE STUDY – This Turkish producer of sanitaryware has boosted its quality so dramatically it’s now a player in the German market. It did so by bringing drastic change to its production system.

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Pulling it off
October 3, 2018
Pulling it off

CASE STUDY – A Turkish producer of gas valves for kitchen appliances has discovered the power of the lean principles of pull and flow, reaching results beyond its imagination.

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Collaborating more closely with our suppliers
September 25, 2018
Collaborating more closely with our suppliers

FEATURE – This Dutch company decided to start its lean journey by involving its suppliers in the improvement work. We hear from both customer and supplier.

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A playground for lean teamwork and collaboration
September 5, 2018
A playground for lean teamwork and collaboration

FEATURE – Enabling its people to think autonomously about problems and fostering collaboration among departments is allowing a French company that makes and installs playgrounds to thrive.

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Keeping the spirit of care alive
August 2, 2018
Keeping the spirit of care alive

CASE STUDY – The author looks back at the impressive lean transformation of the Hungarian plant of Coloplast, a Danish company offering medical devices and services.

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How we grew using less resources than ever before
April 18, 2018
How we grew using less resources than ever before

THE LEAN BAKERY – In the fourth episode in our video series, the CEO of 365 explains how lean showed him that his business could grow (exponentially) without using any extra resources.

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A single experiment changed how we produce furniture
April 13, 2018
A single experiment changed how we produce furniture

FEATURE – Sometimes all you need to change minds is a successful experiment. This is how a Norwegian furniture manufacturer managed to transform the way it thinks about its sofa production.

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Here is the proof that kaizen leads to real innovation
February 22, 2018
Here is the proof that kaizen leads to real innovation

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – If you need proof that kaizen leads to real innovation, look no further than AIO. This French Tech company that reinvented itself as a karakuri kaizen coach.

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Supporting Sri Lankan society by transforming our company
January 19, 2018
Supporting Sri Lankan society by transforming our company

INTERVIEW – Prior to his talk at this year’s Lean Transformation Summit, the CEO of a large apparel manufacturer tells us about the company’s lean journey, and its impact on Sri Lankan society.

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Automation and lean supply chain at FIAT Chrysler
November 23, 2017
Automation and lean supply chain at FIAT Chrysler
WCM interview lean thinking

INTERVIEW – At the recent European Lean Summit, we sat down with a senior executive from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to learn more about the company’s World Class Manufacturing approach.

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The lean journey of Sisma towards continuous innovation
July 27, 2017
The lean journey of Sisma towards continuous innovation

INTERVIEW – Italy-based precision machinery manufacturer Sisma has changed skin many times over the years. We sat down with its general manager to learn how the firm has been able to continuously innovate over the years.

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Eliminate complexity in raw and packaging materials
November 9, 2016
Eliminate complexity in raw and packaging materials

FEATURE – There is a form of waste – complexity in raw and packaging materials – that adds costs to manufacturing without creating value, but it is often overlooked. The author explains what it is and how to banish it.

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To be leaner discontinue high-volume low-sale products
September 14, 2016
To be leaner discontinue high-volume low-sale products

FEATURE – We often think that making every product customers might want – no matter how little they sell or how much complexity they add to our schedule – is inherently lean. As Toyota understands quite well, however, it is quite the opposite.

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The story of the lean transformation of a crane manufacturer
July 6, 2016
The story of the lean transformation of a crane manufacturer

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – In the past 15 months Terex Cranes has successfully initiated a lean transformation. Follow Catherine Chabiron on her gemba walk to see what this large company is doing to put learning at the heart of its activities.

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Womack: lean transformed automotive once and can do it again
May 30, 2016
Womack: lean transformed automotive once and can do it again
womack mobility 2.0

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – In this month’s column, Jim shares an insightful analysis of the trends and dynamics of today’s automotive industry and looks at the opportunity that lean has to facilitate its next transformation.

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Lean makes our economy more responsible – the SunPower story
May 17, 2016
Lean makes our economy more responsible – the SunPower story

FEATURE – The experience of solar company SunPower shows how, by marrying the concept of circular economy, lean principles can help us to transform our habits and save our planet.

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Making RFS possible - the lean implementation at UCC Coffee
February 11, 2016
Making RFS possible - the lean implementation at UCC Coffee

FEATURE – Repetitive flexible supply is a very effective method to level production scheduling, but as a FMCG company in the Netherlands found out, sometimes a number of conditions must be met before the approach becomes viable.

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A leader can never stop running experiments
December 17, 2015
A leader can never stop running experiments

PROFILE – Before anything else, a good lean leader must be open to changing and continuously running experiments – something Christophe Riboulet, CEO of a small French manufacturer, knows quite a bit about.

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Learning function integration while assembling wind turbines
October 6, 2015
Learning function integration while assembling wind turbines

FEATURE – Over the course of his career in the wind energy industry, the author has learned the power of horizontal integration in the improvement of organizations. In this piece, he shares his experience as a lean practitioner and leader at Ecotècnia.

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The amazing growth of a chain of lean bakeries in Spain
July 16, 2015
The amazing growth of a chain of lean bakeries in Spain

CASE STUDY – A very lean system that runs like clockwork and constant attention to customer service enable Barcelona-based 365.café to achieve the impossible: supplying 55 bakeries out of a 650-sqm factory.

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Prosthetics manufacturer uses lean thinking to stay on top
May 21, 2015
Prosthetics manufacturer uses lean thinking to stay on top

CASE STUDY - Össur is recognized as a leader in the fields of prosthetic, osteoarthritis and injury solutions, but how did lean management and a trial-and-error approach to improvement help it to stay competitive?

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Pull flow and respect for people to drive change at Thales
February 10, 2015
Pull flow and respect for people to drive change at Thales

ARTICLE - We always talk about going to the gemba, but we often don't understand what that entails and what changes it can bring to our companies. In this article, we hear about the experience of Thales.

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Lean thinking at General Motors do Brasil
November 27, 2014
Lean thinking at General Motors do Brasil

INTERVIEW – We speak with Sérgio Caracciolo of General Motors do Brasil about the carmaker’s approach to lean, its struggles, and its lessons learned.

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Change your production leveling strategy to achieve flow
November 6, 2014
Change your production leveling strategy to achieve flow

FEATURE – Effectively applying just-in-time and achieving flow is impossible without leveling production first. Yet, most companies seem to think this is impossible because demand is so variable… but is it really?

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How lean thinking changed an automotive supplier in Brazil
October 23, 2014
How lean thinking changed an automotive supplier in Brazil

INTERVIEW - Lean manufacturing principles, successful training programs and the involvement of management in daily continuous improvement are transforming Brazilian automotive supplier ZEN.

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Employees: the most important part of a lean transformation
September 1, 2014
Employees: the most important part of a lean transformation

CASE STUDY - Through the involvement of front line staff, Hartmann’s production plant near Barcelona is paving the way for an expansion into different markets and inspiring the adoption of lean across the multinational.

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Interview: Delphi Connection Systems
August 14, 2014
Interview: Delphi Connection Systems

INTERVIEW - The General Manager of a Delphi plant in Hungary talks about the lean transformation the site went through and the challenges automotive suppliers face in this day and age.

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Lean thinking and modular layout: LEGO's model factory
July 17, 2014
Lean thinking and modular layout: LEGO's model factory

INTERVIEW – Planet Lean meets LEGO’s Ilona Takács to learn how the toy manufacturer looked at its corporate values to built a new, super-lean factory in eastern Hungary.

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The lean journey of a manufacturer of combine harvesters
April 15, 2014
The lean journey of a manufacturer of combine harvesters

CASE STUDY - An approach based on Lean Daily Management System and experiments in a model area led an Italian manufacturer of combine-harvesters to become one of the leanest organizations in the Veneto region.

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How a Turkish textiles firm thrived using lean manufacturing
January 27, 2014
How a Turkish textiles firm thrived using lean manufacturing

CASE STUDY - Faced with high costs, low demand and growing competition from China, Turkish textile manufacturer Yesim managed to develop a competitive advantage by transforming its ways with lean thinking and increasing its focus on the customer

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Manufacturing is where the lean movement originated from. For their MIT research in the late 1980s (which resulted in the 1990 seminal book The Machine the Changed the World), Jim Womack and Dan Jones identified a set of principles and techniques that made Japanese carmakers far more productive than their Western competitors.

The superiority of the Toyota Production System is now a recognized fact (Toyota has been profitable every year but one, for half a century), which means that today most manufacturing organizations around the world practice lean manufacturing thinking to some extent. The prevalence of this alternative way of thinking and managing in the manufacturing sector often generates confusion in other industries, in which people’s first reaction to improvement attempts is the now proverbial “We don’t make cars. Lean is a manufacturing thing.”

When applied to manufacturing, lean tools like heijunka, SMED or Kanban cards allow for the optimization of production processes and the systematic elimination of waste (in its three incarnations of muda, muri and mura – respectively, non-value-adding work, overburden and unevenness). These happen by implementing the fundamental lean principles of pull and flow. However, it has now been proved that the principles characterizing lean manufacturing are universally applicable. They work in any sector and they apply to any kind of work – even though at times they require some adjustment.