Lean Manufacturing Definition

Cite this article as:"Lean Manufacturing Definition," in The Business Professor, updated March 22, 2019, last accessed December 4, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/lean-manufacturing-definition/.


Lean Manufacturing Definition

Lean manufacturing is a principle applied in development production of products where more products are produced using less. In Japan, lean manufacturing aims at eliminating ‘muda’ or wastage, and instances, where resources are used no value, is witnessed.

A Little More on Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an executive at Toyota Motors Company and was spread by Daniel T. Jones and James P. Womack. The Lean Manufacturing Glossary shows that the process is still being developed as more and more aspects are added to make the process better.

The Toyota Production System, TPS, is one of the oldest lean manufacturing systems and what has become the basis of other systems. There are differences between other systems and TPS and it is important to understand each of the systems separately.

Understanding TPS forms the basis of understanding lean manufacturing. The system aims at eliminating wastes during development and production. With this system, companies aim at producing goods on time as demand requires, at reduced production costs, faster and better than competitors and without producing waste.

Lean Manufacturing forms the basis under which manufacturing improvement tools are created. Some of the lean manufacturing systems include:

  •         SMED, Single Minute Exchange of DIE
  •         5S, Visual Workplace or Visual Factory
  •         TPM, Total Productive Maintenance
  •         KanBan, Work Signaling System
  •         Error & Mistake-Proofing
  •         Materials Replenishment system, commonly known as 2Bin
  •         Level-Loading/Heijunka: Appropriate for a mix of products
  •         Kaizen Events
  •         Inventory Reduction
  •         Continuous Improvement

References for Lean Manufacturing

Academic Research on Lean Manufacturing

  • Lean manufacturing: context, practice bundles, and performance, Shah, R., & Ward, P. T. (2003). Journal of operations management, 21(2), 129-149. There are different factors that inhibit the implementation of rational systems in conventional factories. This paper looks at some contextual factors including plant size, status of unionization status and plant age. The paper also examines some of the consistent practices including Total Quality Management (TQM), Just-In-Time (JIT), Human Resource Management (HRM) and Preventive Management (TPM). The paper concludes that plant size has an effect on lean manufacturing.
  • Analyzing the benefits of lean manufacturing and value stream mapping via simulation: A process sector case study, Abdulmalek, F. A., & Rajgopal, J. (2007). International Journal of production economics, 107(1), 223-236. Lean manufacturing is commonly used in discrete manufacturing but the approach has not been applied in continuous process as the latter has a lot of barriers that hinder managers from implementing the approach. This paper examines cases in which lean approach is applied in the process sector.
  • The benefits of lean manufacturing: what lean thinking has to offer the process industries, Melton, T. (2005). Chemical engineering research and design, 83(6), 662-673. While the lean approach in manufacturing has been so popularized, there are still many people and many manufacturers who have not adopted the approach. Lean manufacturing is a revolution and it is taking on many industries. The aim of this paper is to make lean manufacturing known to majority of companies and to assess the impact of the approach to the process industry. It looks at the history of lean manufacturing and how it was used in Toyota manufacturing company to enhance production.
  • Impact of lean manufacturing and environmental management on business performance: An empirical study of manufacturing firms, Yang, M. G. M., Hong, P., & Modi, S. B. (2011). International Journal of Production Economics, 129(2), 251-261. This paper examines how lean manufacturing practices and environmental management affect the performance of a business. The paper samples 309 manufacturing firms to understand how environmental management and lean manufacturing relate. Environmental practices, when used alone, will only negatively affect a business’ performance but when environmental management is improved, the negative impact is reduced.
  • Classification scheme for lean manufacturing tools, Pavnaskar, S. J., Gershenson, J. K., & Jambekar, A. B. (2003). International Journal of Production Research, 41(13), 3075-3090. The author observes that there are lots of companies that have adopted lean manufacturing and this has created a lot of misapplications of the approach. This paper aims at proposing a classification scheme that would act as a link between lean manufacturing tools and the problems production lines face. It looks at common manufacturing problems and their relation to the classification scheme.
  • The role of communication and management support in a lean manufacturing implementation, Worley, J. M., & Doolen, T. L. (2006). Management Decision, 44(2), 228-245. This paper examines how the management can support the implementation of lean manufacturing approaches. It also looks at the how communication impacts lean implementation.
  • Application of lean manufacturing techniques in the emergency department, Dickson, E. W., Singh, S., Cheung, D. S., Wyatt, C. C., & Nugent, A. S. (2009). The Journal of emergency medicine, 37(2), 177-182. This paper examines how companies apply lean manufacturing to eliminate wastage and increase value. The principle aims at adding product value and eliminating aspects that do not add value. The approach has been used for many years and it is associated with product quality.
  • Lean manufacturing, non-financial performance measures, and financial performance, Fullerton, R. R., & Wempe, W. F. (2009). International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 29(3), 214-240. This paper aims at examining how non-financial manufacturing performance, NFMP, can be used to enhance lean manufacturing and the financial performance of a firm.
  • Quantifying benefits of conversion to lean manufacturing with discrete event simulation: a case study, Detty, R. B., & Yingling, J. C. (2000). International Journal of Production Research, 38(2), 429-445. In this paper, the author looks at how lean manufacturing principles can be applied in different manufacturing firms. The paper has developed models that mirror the existing assembly operations and for the new systems. These models have also included warehousing, inventory management, scheduling systems and transportation.
  • Equipment replacement decisions and lean manufacturing, Sullivan, W. G., McDonald, T. N., & Van Aken, E. M. (2002). Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, 18(3-4), 255-265. This paper examines traditional manufacturing systems and their shortcomings. It observes that during production, manufacturers spread fixed costs over large production batches to reduce the production costs. However, that is not as effective as lean manufacturing which aims at reducing wastage. It assesses the functioning of the Toyota Production System and value stream mapping to explain how lean manufacturing can be used to enhance product value.
  • Production flow analysis through value stream mapping: a lean manufacturing process case study, Rahani, A. R., & Al-Ashraf, M. (2012). Procedia Engineering, 41, 1727-1734. This paper is an analysis of stream value mapping and its effects on the manufacturing process. The paper examines the use of Lean Production, LP, in automotive parts manufacturing. It outlines the steps that should be taken for effective linear production.

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