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Lean Manufacturing Philosophy and Principles

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 1210 words Published: 11th Aug 2017

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Research for manufacturing systems:

Introduction to report:

Prior to the popular adoption of Lean Manufacturing, the demand for variety was not met. Customers wanted variety, including different models and diverse options. Lean manufacturing was invented in order to make it possible to provide continuity in process flow and a variety in product offerings (Womack et al., 1990). Lean techniques were then applied in order to provide the customer what they want, when they need it without any excess costs (Conner, 2004). This report aims to convey the ideas and philosophy of Lean Manufacturing. Moreover, the background of the origins of Lean Manufacturing shall be explored. Furthermore, Muda, Kaizen, the 5’S’s, and station organization will be explained. Finally, a practical example that aids to visualize the principles of Lean Manufacturing is going to be given.

Ideas and philosophy

The definition of lean manufacturing is a systematic approach to identify and eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection. (Kilpatrick, 2003)

Furthermore, lean manufacturing is a method that can be defined, refined, and duplicated. It must focus on eliminating waste. Muda, the Japanese term for waste, includes many forms generally overlooked when walking through the plant. The idea of perfection is the “waste-free” cost of manufacturing a product. Identifying and eliminating waste is a “Non-value-added” activity, this means that it requires, action, time, or resources, but adds nothing in the eyes of the customer. The purpose of applying Lean manufacturing is to provide the customer with just what they want when they need it, with no excess cost. (Conner, 2004)

Moreover, lean manufacturing is a method that depends greatly on flexibility and organization, it is ideal for companies that want new and fresh manufacturing methods. Additionally, lean techniques eliminate large capital outlays for dedicated machinery until automation becomes completely necessary. (Bosh Rexroth Corporation, 2009)

Lean manufacturing represents a major change from automation. The “less is better” approach to manufacturing leads to a vastly simplified, uncluttered environment that is adjusted to the manufacturer’s demands. Products are manufactured one at a time in response to the customer’s requirements rather than batch manufactured. The goal is to produce only the quantity required and no more. Although, the lean approach is not the solution for all manufacturing problems, it does offer a flexible solution for assembling more complex products. (Bosh Rexroth Corporation, 2009)

Origins of lean manufacturing (Akdeniz, 2015)

The Toyota production system not only presently embodies lean manufacturing methodologies, but is ultimately behind the development of the lean business philosophy. Without the Toyota production system, we would not have lean manufacture. At the heart of the Toyota productions systems are two central concepts: Jidoka (intelligent automation) and Just in Time Manufacturing.

The origins of Jidoka can be traced back to looms invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota group. Traditionally, weaving was extremely labour intensive, manual work, since the weaver constantly had to feed the weft (horizontal yarn) back and forth between the vertical yarns. Sakichi Toyoda’s mother worked for a loom, and as he used to watch her at work, his mind would ceaselessly churn out new ideas of how to make this a simpler and more efficient process.

In 1890 at the age of 24, Sakichi invented an original, easy-to-use wooden hand loom that was almost 50 % more efficient than existing models that existed at the time. A key feature of this loom that led to this increased productivity was the ability of the weaver to use one hand to move the yarn back and forth so that they could feed in the weft simultaneously without interruption.

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Sakichi continued to experiment with new ideas, created more inventions and in 1924 he and his son Kiichiro developed the Model G, the world’s first high-speed loom that fed in new weft without interruption of work. Later on Kiichiro took control of Toyota and he led Toyota into automotive manufacture. In 1937 Kiichiro Toyoda commenced work on a Toyota vehicle manufacturing plant, and he began to develop his ideas behind ‘Just in Time’ manufacturing. He wanted to establish a system that produced only what was needed, when it was needed, and in the amount required to meet the demand – in order to save time, money, and workspace.

As the Toyota Production system (TPS) matured and Toyota began to excel as a corporation, the rest of the world began taking notice. Through implementation of Jidoka and ‘Just in Time’ manufacture- Toyota was able to become the standard for many companies around the world. In 1984 The TPS was translated into English and General Motors approached Toyota to negotiate a contract that lead to a joint venture. The Toyota-GM plant quickly became the highest ranked in US for quality. The term lean was used to describe the Toyota Production System by a research group led by James Womack, and later on the term was coined as ‘lean manufacture.’ This was later on shared with the world when a book outlining the research’s findings, The Machine that Changed the World, was released.

Nowadays, lean system and methodologies, first developed by Toyota, have been widely adapted and spread to all forms of industry – ranging from hospitals, offices, and government administration to retail, the service industry and the military. In each incarnation, lean manufacturing has proved as innovative successful as the last.


Akdeniz, C. (2015) Lean Manufacturing Explained – Can Akdeniz – Google Books.

Bosh Rexroth Corporation (2009) ‘Lean Manufacturing: Principles, Tools and Methods’, (2.5). Available at: http://www13.boschrexroth-us.com/Catalogs/Lean_Manufactuting_Guidebook.pdf (Accessed: 7 March 2017).

Conner, G. (2004) Lean Manufacturing: Certification Workshop Participant Guide – Gary Conner – Google Books.

Kilpatrick, J. (2003) ‘Lean Principles’. Available at: http://mhc-net.com/whitepapers_presentations/LeanPrinciples.pdf (Accessed: 7 March 2017).

Womack, J. P., Jones, D. T., Roos, D. and Sammons Carpenter, D. (1990) Machine that Changed the World – James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, Daniel Roos, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Google Books. Rawson Associates Scribner. Available at: https://books.google.com.mt/books?id=_n5qRfaNv9AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+machine+that+changed+the+world&hl=mt&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=the machine that changed the world&f=false (Accessed: 8 March 2017).


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