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Lean Manufacturing Implementation

The Lean Manufacturing Handbook

Part 3

The Lean Manufacturing Handbook
by Tom Epply
Assisted by Judy Nagengast
Second Edition

Intro | Previous

How was Lean Manufacturing developed?

The concept of Lean was developed by the Toyota executive, TAIICHI OHNO (1912-1990). Mr. Ohno first identified the seven types of MUDA (waste).

Mr. Ohno's beliefs were shaped by his study of the Model T Ford's (1913) continuous flow in final assembly, as well as his fascination with American supermarkets.

In 1913, Henry Ford designed the Model T Assembly Line so that all the processes were in the same sequence as the build. Prior to this, all manufacturing processes (stamping, welding, etc.) were grouped together creating batch manufacturing.

While in the United States, Mr. Ohno realized that the American Supermarket stocking and restocking methods were far superior to the methods used in heavy industry.

Mr. Ohno's Lean ideas were first put into practice immediately after World War II in Japan. In the early 80's, several Japanese manufacturers built plants in the U.S. and operated them with Lean principles. The success of these plants proved that Lean was not just a Japanese cultural phenomenon, but could be successful outside of Japan.

Does anyone "Own" Lean Manufacturing?

Not only does no one "own" Lean, but the company that has been the most successful, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, is willing to share, in detail, their success story with all parties; even their competition. You can schedule a visit to Toyota's Manufacturing Facility in Georgetown, KY, where they will conduct a tour as part of a one-day information seminar. The first half of the seminar includes an overview of Lean and how Lean is applied. The second half is a panel discussion consisting of both team leaders and team members. In both sessions all questions are openly discussed and answered.

There are also several universities that do an excellent job of teaching Lean Manufacturing. Highly recommended are:

  • University of Michigan
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Dayton

In addition to the above, there are many books on Lean and a non-profit organization to promote Lean called the Lean Enterprise Institute. To learn more about the Lean Enterprise Institute, visit their web site at

What can Lean Manufacturing do for me?

Lean can give your company a competitive advantage. Lean Manufacturing principles can help you reduce your manufacturing lead time, improve the quality of your products and reduce your new product development time. All of these will be of direct benefit to both you and your customer. What if your competitor(s) implements Lean and you don't?

In evaluating the advantages of Lean Manufacturing you should compare your company to the best in class of other companies. How does your company rate compared to World Class Lean Organizations?


Metrics World Class Your Company
Manufacturing Lead Time <1 Day ?
Delivered Quality 3 PPM ?
Delivery Performance 99 + % ?
Inventory Turns >50 Many Companies
Target 365 (one/Day)
Manufacturing Space 35-50% less than
mass producers
New Product Development 6 months less than mass producers ?
Skilled Trades Response <2 minutes ?
Production:Skilled Trade Ratio >20:1 ?
Change over time <TAKT Time ?


How does Lean Manufacturing save me money?

Lean Manufacturing can save you money in a variety of ways. When moving from batch production towards one-piece flow, savings can be realized by increasing your inventory turns and reducing your Work In Process (WIP) inventory. With the money saved you can:

  • Reinvest to grow your business
  • Reduce your debt
  • Add to the bottom line profit

Moving towards one-piece flow will also increase your quality level resulting in increased profit. One-piece flow will help you uncover any defects early in the process before a large number of parts are manufactured.

A reduction in the amount of floor space required will also save you money. Lean Manufacturing can often lead to a floor space reduction from 35-50%. This additional area can be used to expand your business and maybe even eliminate the need for a plant expansion.

With Lean Manufacturing you only produce to meet your customer's requirements (how they want it, when they want it, in the quantity they want). When this becomes your mindset you will be able to meet those requirements with less capital equipment, reducing your investment.

Would Lean Manufacturing change my operation?

The first change occurs when you learn to "see" your organization in a new way. Once you see what is there, areas of waste become apparent and a plan for change soon follows. Every plan is different, but the common factors are eliminating the seven types of waste.

How do I learn to "see" my organization?

To "see" your organization means to understand the processes and flows of your product from incoming raw material to shipped final goods. The best way to "see" is to do Value Stream Mapping. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) involves diagramming every process required to produce your product or service in a step-by-step block diagram form. Complete "door-to-door" flow is covered from receiving raw materials through each manufacturing process to shipping final product.

Companies are often surprised to see that their flow looks like a bowl of spaghetti, with the product being transferred all around the plant to be processed. Often a simple rearrangement of operations can bring surprising results.

Once you VSM your current state, you then VSM your future or proposed state. This is the point where you move your operation from a traditional batch and queue manufacturing line to a one-piece flow lean cell.

How do I learn how to do Value Stream Mapping?

The book Learning to See by Mike Rother and John Shook was written as a handbook for Value Stream Mapping. You can purchase this book from the Lean Enterprise (

Continental Design and Engineering offers a 2 1/2 day Lean Workshop at your site, which teaches Value Stream Mapping along with mapping a production line in your plant. (see page 22) Then we help you apply Lean principles to work out your future state and develop your Lean plan.

    Lean Manufacturing Handbook Menu
  1. The Lean Manufacturing Handbook
  2. What does "Just-In-Time" mean?
  3. How was Lean Manufacturing Developed?
  4. How do I implement Lean Manufacturing?
  5. Do we need outside help to get Lean Manufacturing?
  6. Tell me more about the Lean Implementation Workshop you offer
  7. About the Author - Tom Epply

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