What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean Manufacturing PDF Lean Manufacturing PDF Lean Manufacturing PDF What is Lean Manufacturing explained here in this multimedial page. Different points of view on what is Lean Manufacturing are treated. Read now.

Reading this section you will explore many definitions on What is Lean Manufacturing.

I will reveal my favourite but you can choose the definition you like the most.

Let's start with an image.

This image summarizes that Lean Production is not about the COST REDUCTION. 

Lean Production is to increase

  • Quality
  • Speed
  • Results

with the consequence of cost reduction.

So the first step is to not believe in Lean Projects where the main scope is the cost reduction.

Another real important point is to understand that.

  • Lean Principles can be applied to every field of industry and life.

    To give you an example I propose you this 6 minutes video.


It should be clear now that Lean is a mindset rather than a set of tool.

Because of this, I do not like to speak of Lean Production, Lean Manufacturing or Lean Enterprise ...

I like to speak about Lean Thinking!


Here the first 2 major points to remember.

  • Lean is not a cost reduction project.
  • Lean can be applied in every field ... no excuses.

The most authoritative Lean Definition ... from the present.

There are many Lean Centre and Lean Institutes that are constantly studying Lean Definitions.

I would like to reveal you which is, in my opinion, the best ...

The winner is ... Lean Enterprise Institute.

From their web site you can really find a lot of material to understand Lean Concepts.

Now I will report and comment their definition on what is lean manufacturing.

" The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.

Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources."

My comment:


I fully agree and it is in line with the image I propose at the beginning.

Focus on the customer and the waste will be reduced as a consequence.

Waste Reduction lead to Cost Reduction



The most authoritative Lean Definition ... from the past.

The history of the Lean Production start in Japan with the Toyota (even if a continuous exchange with the USA was done).

It is common to say that the founder of the Lean Management was Taiichi Ohno.

From his book, I would like to quote his definition (even if he did not the word Lean at that time).

" The Basic Idea of the Toyota System is to completely eliminate wastes.

The two pillars to reach the waste elimination are the "just in time" and the "jidoka" (Autonomation)."

  • Just in Time

    The first pillar of Lean.

  • Jidoka (Autonomation)

    The second pillar of Lean.

The most authoritative Lean Definition ... from the near future


The World is moving faster and faster.

Windows of opportunities open and close faster too.

So the way to organize industries is becoming different accordingly with this new velocity.

A new movement started by merging the Toyota Production System and the Internet World.

This movement is named "The Lean Start Up" and was founded by Eric Ries.

For him and his movement the definition of Lean is the following.

  • The Lean Startup method ask to measure people's productivity in a different way.
  • The objective is to understand the right product to develop.
  • The product that customers want and are willing to pay.


Here, a very interesting video that summarize the Lean Startup.

Do you think I gave you already a good overview on the Lean Definitions?

If your answer is yes, I would like to ask you to click on the "+1",

for you are an instant and for me is a good feedback for the work I am doing!


Lean Manufacturing Blog


It is time go into Lean benefits details...

5S is part of the Lean Journey is not the only part.

Other Benefits of Lean Manufacturing normally listed are:

  • Inventory Reduction

  • Set-Up Time Reduction

  • Defects Reduction

  • Efficiency and Productivity

  • Machine Breakdown Reduction

  • High Delivery Performance

  • Customer Satisfaction

  • Employee Satisfaction

  • Supplier Satisfaction

Is it possible? All these benefits?

Why all the companies in the world do not use it?

Even if it is not easy to believe it is true.

I can clearly state that I saw with my eyes:

  • Set-Up from hours to minutes.

  • 30% Inventory Reduction

  • 20% Productivity Increase

I know is hard to believe but it is real.

The other face of the coin is the to obtain these results is a hard work.

You need a deep cultural change and it not happens overnight.

In fact is the Lean Journey, not the Lean week-end.

If you will continue to follow me in this section I will tell you how it is possible to reach unbelievable results in your company.

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The companies that started with the

Lean Manufacturing Journey


Here I want to list for you the companies I know are involved in a Lean Manufacturing Project.

By visiting their websites you really could obtain a lot of information and their definition of What is Lean Manufacturing.

  • Du Pont Production System

A video from ABB show the extraordinary results they got:

Here a video on the Lean Management in GE.

Finally, the results of Philips.

The list is clearly not complete.

When I will put other companies on the list I will you update.

But, to be updated you have to join the community [ scroll up 🙂 ].

The complete definition of what is Lean Manufacturing, from my favorite source.

Here is the kicker!

I would like to reveal that my favorite Lean Definition is from the Lean Enterprise Institute.

I already said something but they continue with a more detailed definition:

” A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.

My comment:

2 keywords you have to fix in mind:

  • Key Processes
  • Continuous Improvement

Following these sections, I will give you the best practice to focus on the Key Processes.

About the Continuous Improvement I would like to challenge you.

I think that in your life you had the chance to travel.

You normally put clothes in a suitcase or bag.


Do you think the way you use is the best or there is something that you could improve?

Answer in your mind before the following video ...

  • YES

  • NO



look at the video and be sincere with your answer ...

 How to became a Lean Company?

” To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.”

My comment:

To change the focus of the management is probably the hardest part.

In particular the middle management.

It not easy to ask the inventory manager to accept an increase in inventory in the first period of the Lean Implementation even if it is something to accept in the long term strategy.

The two keywords:

  • Change the focus of the Management
  • From Vertical to Horizontal (the flow)

What increase and what decrease with Lean Management

Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far fewer costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems.

Companies are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.

My comment:

Every time the company is able to really eliminate waste it is created something that sticks in the company because everybody win!

Believe me, is not simple!

The only tip I can give you is to involve all the person involved in the process and:

listen, listen, listen.

The Lean books that really you have to read to understand What is Lean.


Lean Manufacturing Books

In these years the Lean Management in becoming more and more popular.

A lot of consultants are approaching companies to promote the Lean Journey.

I would like to reveal you a secret.

Some of them have just experience but in my opinion, some of them have not read the books.

Follow these steps for your "Lean Traning":

  • Buy and read the book I suggest
  • Start with a project in a limited area of the company
  • Learn from experience (with solid knowledge by books reading)
  • With less than 300 $ you will have valuable experience in Lean.

Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production

Learning to See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate MUDA

My comment: Here you start with some number. In a company the numbers are important. You will learn how to manage chaos in the most efficient way. I will learn to see what you normally see from a different point of view


The Lean Toolbox: The Essential Guide to Lean Transformation

My Comment: This book was written by a professor from the UK and will offer you around 300 pages with all the tool for the Lean Transformation. Good to understand in one book all the story :-). There are formulas and numbers.

Lean Lexicon: A Graphical Glossary for Lean Thinkers

My comment: It is important to have a quick guide to align the company to the definitions. If you misunderstand the KANBAN, probably you will waste time and resources. Refer to this book to start with the right step.


All these books are my essentials. Just with this book you can start the Lean Journey and follow for 1-2 year. In the following section I will suggest you specific books for a higher level of implementation.

Remeber! The Lean Transformation is a journey not a week-end.

Before the last part.

If you like my way to explain Lean Management, why don't you join the community?

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Read now our guide on a successful

5S Methodology implementation.

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14 Principles of Toyota.

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