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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Every square meter counts
September 11, 2023
Every square meter counts

CASE STUDY – When it had to develop a production process for a new product from scratch, this Dutch company leveraged lean tools and practices. And the results were impressive.

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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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Can we still learn from Toyota suppliers in Japan?
June 14, 2023
Can we still learn from Toyota suppliers in Japan?

FEATURE – Fresh of a study tour in Japan, the authors wonder if there is anything left to learn from Toyota’s network of suppliers in the age of AI and digital. Hint: it’s a rethorical question.

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The power of people: adapting to changing times
February 3, 2023
The power of people: adapting to changing times

CASE STUDY – A people-centric approach to work, improvement, and the adoption of automation is allowing this Norwegian company to thrive in a changing industry and environment.

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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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How hoshin is giving us a common purpose
April 26, 2022
How hoshin is giving us a common purpose

CASE STUDY – This 104-year-old Chilean provider of integral solutions for the mining industry has turned to hoshin kanri to effectively connect everyone’s work with the overall business strategy.

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Creating front-line leaders to solve problems at Nestlé
March 22, 2021
Creating front-line leaders to solve problems at Nestlé

INTERVIEW – In this Q&A, we learn how the Technical & Production (T&P) area of Nestlé Colombia Ecuador is using lean and Art Smalley’s four types of problems framework to bring leadership closer to the gemba.

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How lean is enabling the growth of a Turkish company
July 18, 2017
How lean is enabling the growth of a Turkish company

CASE STUDY – With plans to double capacity year on year in its new precision machining business, a Turkish company found in lean a way to control growth by stabilizing old processes while new ones are introduced.

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How lean is enabling the growth of a Turkish company
July 18, 2017
How lean is enabling the growth of a Turkish company

CASE STUDY – With plans to double capacity year on year in its new precision machining business, a Turkish company found in lean a way to control growth by stabilizing old processes while new ones are introduced.

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How we built a lean foundry from scratch
November 15, 2022
How we built a lean foundry from scratch

INTERVIEW – Ahead of this week’s Lean Global Connection, we talk to one of the speakers, who is trying to create a foundry that is lean from the start.

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Don’t try to copy Toyota, understand it instead
September 13, 2021
Don’t try to copy Toyota, understand it instead

FEATURE – Based on his direct decades-long experience at Toyota, the author explains what it takes to establish problem-finding and a kaizen culture in new environments.

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What pull systems can I combine?
June 17, 2021
What pull systems can I combine?

FEATURE – In the last article in his series, the author discusses how you can mix and combine the different pull systems available to the lean practitioner.

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Supporting the Australian service industry
March 16, 2019
Supporting the Australian service industry

INTERVIEW – What skills do coaches need to successfully support lean transformations in the service sector? Our colleagues from Australia tells us about their experience.

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Inventory reduction and pulled supply in a Brazilian factory
November 9, 2017
Inventory reduction and pulled supply in a Brazilian factory

FEATURE – Inventory reduction is critical to waste elimination. Yet, many are reluctant to do it, fearing demand variability and production instability will neutralize their efforts. Grupo Sabó's story proves otherwise.

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Jim Womack shares his lean take on Tesla
January 29, 2018
Jim Womack shares his lean take on Tesla

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – In his first column of 2018, the author looks at one of the most talked about companies in the world, Tesla, from a lean point of view.

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How a Ukrainian company modernized itself using lean
January 9, 2018
How a Ukrainian company modernized itself using lean

INTERVIEW – In this Q&A, the CEO of a Ukrainian provider of equipment for stores shares how lean thinking has helped his company modernize its processes and engage its people.

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Rethinking an entire production system
September 30, 2014
Rethinking an entire production system

FEATURE - It took a Spanish clinical diagnostics instruments manufacturer the introduction of a new product to realize how an old-fashioned system and management style were preventing the company from thriving.

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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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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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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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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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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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Lean and the global Covid-19 vaccine race
November 5, 2020
Lean and the global Covid-19 vaccine race

CASE STUDY – Pall Corporation used lean product and process development principles to create the process to produce billions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 in record time.

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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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Michael Ballé's short guide to successfully using SMED
April 16, 2018
Michael Ballé's short guide to successfully using SMED

THE TOOLS CORNER – For the second article in our new series, the author offers a guide to the origins and use of one of lean's most important tools: SMED.

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Lean has changed the production line forever
February 28, 2018
Lean has changed the production line forever

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – This month, the author looks at the production line, a century-old idea that still fascinates us, reflecting on how lean thinking has changed it.

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The improvement history of wire manufacturer Ducab
January 9, 2017
The improvement history of wire manufacturer Ducab

FEATURE – With an open-minded approach to improvement tools, a long history of quality and engaged top leaders, wire manufacturer Ducab aims to fulfil the strategic needs of the Emirates.

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Understanding buffer limits in levelled production
August 17, 2016
Understanding buffer limits in levelled production

FEATURE – Setting the right buffer limits and re-order point, triggering production of an item, is critical for an organization to manage inventory. In his latest article, Ian Glenday explains why, once again, picking flow over batch logic is a no-brainer.

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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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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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Think in terms of value networks, not supply chains
April 12, 2021
Think in terms of value networks, not supply chains

FEATURE – This article explores the concept of “value network”, emphasizing the importance of looking at lead-times and value creation in a more holistic way.

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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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Lean in internal supply logistics
July 9, 2020
Lean in internal supply logistics

CASE STUDY – The implementation of lean in the internal logistics of a pharmaceutical company in Brazil proved key to increasing productivity and quality in the organization.

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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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Harada-san and the steps to better Jidoka
March 23, 2020
Harada-san and the steps to better Jidoka

FEATURE – In the first piece of a series on Takehiko Harada’s contribution to TPS, the authors discuss the Nagara Switch and how it helps to achieve better Jidoka.

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Learning to be lean chameleons
February 13, 2020
Learning to be lean chameleons

FEATURE – In this candid, personal account, the author shares her experience as a lean coach, her challenges and success, and how she adapts to different situations.

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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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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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Centerlining: what it is and how it works
January 16, 2020
Centerlining: what it is and how it works

FEATURE – In this compelling read, the author explains how “centerlining” tools and settings can reduce variation in a process and avoid having to constantly seek adjustments à la McGyver.

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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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Learning at takt time in Thales
June 11, 2019
Learning at takt time in Thales

INTERVIEW – A former VP of Operations from Thales tells Catherine Chabiron how he and his team turned around their department by committing to lean thinking and focusing on people development every day.

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What a good supermarket looks like
April 4, 2019
What a good supermarket looks like

THE NAKED GEMBA – Our new series goes back to basics to unlock the secrets of the gemba and tell us about some of the main tools and techniques we can use in a lean transformation. First up, supermarkets.

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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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Lean learning happens across sectors too
September 3, 2018
Lean learning happens across sectors too

FEATURE – The power of cross-pollination: learning from a manufacturing company has helped a cancer treatment center in Brazil to thrive in its lean transformation.

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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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The post-Toyota future of the lean community in Australia
May 16, 2018
The post-Toyota future of the lean community in Australia

INTERVIEW – With the closure of Toyota’s operations in Altona, the land Down Under is left without its lean poster child. Alister Lee tells us who the community there should look to next.

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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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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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Drawing inspiration from a factory's kaizens and dojos
April 11, 2018
Drawing inspiration from a factory's kaizens and dojos

BUILDING BRIDGES – This month, a CTO explains how his software company borrowed the kaizen spirit – and the idea of a dojo – from an avionics factory and put it to good use.

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This bakery found out how inspiring lean books can be
April 5, 2018
This bakery found out how inspiring lean books can be

FEATURE – How reading lean books empowered people and transformed the managerial culture at an industrial bakery in the Western Cape Winelands in South Africa.

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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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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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Isao Yoshino reflects on the role of management at Toyota
January 15, 2018
Isao Yoshino reflects on the role of management at Toyota

INTERVIEW – In this Q&A with Catherine Chabiron, Toyota veteran Isao Yoshino discusses NUMMI, management at the company, and how to change the mindsets of leaders.

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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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Driving lean with book clubs at Fuji Xerox Australia
October 12, 2017
Driving lean with book clubs at Fuji Xerox Australia

FEATURE – In May, the author told us how the IT department at Fuji Xerox Australia used book clubs to engage people in lean. In this update, he explains how the efforts were brought over to a different area of the business.

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You can't make countries great without great jobs
December 21, 2016
You can't make countries great without great jobs

WOMACK'S YOKOTEN – Small firms represent the backbone of the economy, and there is no doubt lean can help them improve and grow – by making the jobs they offer great. Without it, countries won't be great either.

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To initiate levelled production you need to run to time
December 9, 2016
To initiate levelled production you need to run to time

FEATURE – What if we ran our production schedule to time instead of quantity? While creating overproduction, running to time is a temporary first step to establish levelled production with fixed repetitive cycles.

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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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What informs disaster recovery efforts at Toyota
August 7, 2017
What informs disaster recovery efforts at Toyota

FEATURE – Much has been said and written about Toyota’s ability to recover from disasters. What many don’t realize, however, is that the company’s recovery strategy is informed by its underlying values – not just its tools.

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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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Jim Womack on the lean shut-down of Toyota Australia
May 30, 2017
Jim Womack on the lean shut-down of Toyota Australia

WOMACK'S YOKOTEN – On October 3, Toyota will cease its manufacturing operations in Australia, but the way it is managing the transition - in the leanest way possible - holds great lessons for us all.

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People development and competitivess - the Alliance story
May 15, 2017
People development and competitivess - the Alliance story

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – This month, Catherine visits a metal injection moulding specialist and hears about the strong link between growing people’s capabilities with lean thinking and staying competitive in a complex market.

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What levelled production has to do with product costing
February 3, 2017
What levelled production has to do with product costing

FEATURE – What does levelled production have to do with product costing? This article explains how getting your accountants to understand this link can help your company become less complex, more efficient and profitable.

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Using lean as a way to transform your business model
December 5, 2016
Using lean as a way to transform your business model

INTERVIEW – Lean is making inroads in the Middle East! In this interview, a Senior VP of Gerab National Enterprises tells us how the company is using lean to reinvent itself as a project management firm.

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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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Why fixing the little problems should not be discounted
October 12, 2016
Why fixing the little problems should not be discounted

FEATURE – A broken phone or a clock showing the wrong time may seem small details to you, but they actually make people's jobs more difficult. Fixing these issues improves work and boosts morale... It also says a lot about you as a company.

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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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Is ERP at odds with lean management? Ian Glenday wonders
March 1, 2016
Is ERP at odds with lean management? Ian Glenday wonders

FEATURE – It might be widely used as a planning system, but ERP – Ian Glenday argues – is not conducive to an environment where lean thinking can thrive: because it is based on a batch logic, it always creates a different plan and, with it, instability.

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Jim Womack comments on the Volkswagen scandal
September 29, 2015
Jim Womack comments on the Volkswagen scandal

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – The Volkswagen “defeat device” scandal is the latest example of a company that has chosen to focus on growth rather than the customer. What can we learn from this, and what should we do when such a shift takes place?

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Lean management lessons from Procter&Gamble and Toyota
February 26, 2015
Lean management lessons from Procter&Gamble and Toyota

FEATURE - What do Toyota and Procter&Gamble have in common? A passion for developing people, a focus on customer satisfaction, and... enviable results that are sustained over time.

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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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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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Building a lean platform for Industry 4.0 operating systems
September 9, 2022
Building a lean platform for Industry 4.0 operating systems

FEATURE – As organizations strive to modernize and ride the wave of new technologies, what should their operating systems look like? How can they adapt to Industry 4.0?

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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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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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'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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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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Creating Toyota cultures around the world
September 6, 2021
Creating Toyota cultures around the world

FEATURE – The Lean Global Network just published a new book by Kiyoshi “Nate” Furuta sharing compelling examples of how Toyota principles and culture can be effectively spread to new environments.

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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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Lean leadership and Industry 4.0
August 5, 2021
Lean leadership and Industry 4.0

RESEARCH – The authors explore the leadership traits that Lean Thinking and the implementation of Industry 4.0 practices call for and explore their synergies.

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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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What pull system is right for you?
June 7, 2021
What pull system is right for you?

FEATURE – In the third article in his series, Christoph Roser provides a practical guide to understand the most adequate pull system to your circumstances.

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The criteria to decide on a pull system
May 27, 2021
The criteria to decide on a pull system

FEATURE – Before you decide which method to use to establish pull, you must consider a number of factors. Here’s the things you should be paying attention to.

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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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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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What lean marketing teaches us about packaging
January 14, 2021
What lean marketing teaches us about packaging

FEATURE – What role does packaging play when it comes to marketing a product? The author discusses “lean packaging” and shares the example of an Italian toilet paper maker.

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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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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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Jishuken at a Coloplast distribution center
September 10, 2020
Jishuken at a Coloplast distribution center

VIDEO - In February, a group of Lean Global Network coaches visited Coloplast's Parts Distribution Center in Hungary to help the local team improve the internal lead-time across the facility.

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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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30 years since Machine came out - Part 2
September 3, 2020
30 years since Machine came out - Part 2

INTERVIEW – Thirty years ago, a book introduced lean thinking to the world, started a global movement and transformed business forever. Our editor caught up with one of the authors.

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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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Four types of problems, in the management system
July 2, 2020
Four types of problems, in the management system

FEATURE – A lean management system is necessary to effectively run a business. Can Art Smalley’s four types of problems framework help such a system to focus on what’s really important?

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