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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

‘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.

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.

Lean ASAP!

CASE STUDY – Some have 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 front-line healthcare workers.

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.

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.
space optimisation small batches 365

Small batches and clever use of space for great flexibility

THE LEAN BAKERY – In this episode of our video series, we visit 365's super-lean workshop, where small batches and a clever use of space allow for unprecedented levels of flexibility in manufacture.
Juan Antonio on 365 growth

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.
furniture lean manufacturing

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.
Womack production line

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.
kaizen karakuri lean work

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.
lean bakery workshop gemba walk

Visit the stock-free workshop of our lean bakery

THE LEAN BAKERY – In the second video in the series, we visit the stock-free workshop of one of 365's lean bakeries and learn about quality bread, customer focus and making lives easier for bakers.