Lean Production

The term “lean production” refers to the set of tools and techniques used to streamline and improve a company’s production system. With its roots in the Toyota Production System, lean production aims to boost productivity while reducing waste. Companies that successfully embrace lean production methods can achieve impressive improvements in their performance. The superiority of a lean production system was first identified by Womack and Jones during their research on Japanese carmakers. Initially, it was believed that lean was only applicable to production, whereas today we know those principles can be applied in any sector.

With more and more organizations (not just manufacturing firms) turning to automation to try and solve every-day problems, lean production offers an approach that gives the operators and their work the dignity they deserve. This idea is best expressed by the concept of the andon, a cord hanging above lean production lines that operators can pull whenever they encounter a problem they can’t solve right way (this is the base of the fundamental lean principles of jidoka, “automation with a human touch”). Lean is clearly an alternative to reckless management that considers people as mere capital.

The main characteristics of a lean production system are the fact the different stages of production happen in a sequence without interruptions (known as flow) and that the pace of production is set by the customers (pull).

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.

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.

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.

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.