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Lean Manufacturing Part 2

In our last blog we discussed lean as a concept, and something about its origins. This week we finish our blog and we delve a little bit deeper into the world of lean manufacturing.


What are the principles of Lean?


In the book The Machine That Changed the World (1991) by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos, the principles of lean were published. The five core principles of lean manufacturing are defined as value, the value stream, flow, pull and perfection. These are now used as the basis to implement lean.


They can be summarised as this:


1. Value: Value comes from the perspective of the customer and it relates to how much they are willing to pay for your products/services. This value is then created by the manufacturer or service provider who should look to eliminate waste/costs to meet the optimal price (that the customer will pay) while also trying to maximise profits.

2. Mapping the Value Stream: Analysing the materials/resources that you need to produce a product/service with the aim of finding any waste and improvements to be made. The value stream encapsulates the lifecycle of a product, going from raw materials to any required disposal. Every stage of the cycle needs to be examined.

This can be complex as it not just about the manufacturing, it is about the work of the design team, logistics team etc.

3. Create Flow: Creating flow is about getting rid of the barriers to improve lead times. Ideally this is about ensuring you can go from one task to the next with minimum delay. Interrupted production costs and creating flow ensures a constant stream for the production team.

4. Establish a Pull System: A pull system works by only commencing work when there is demand. Push systems determine inventories in advance with production set to meet these sales/production forecasts. However, forecasts can often be wide of the mark and this can result in either too much or not enough of a product being produced to meet demand. This can lead to additional costs, schedules that go wrong and low customer satisfaction. A pull system only goes into action when there is demand which relies on flexibility, great communication and processes which are efficient.

Only moving onto new tasks as the previous steps have been completed is key, allowing the team to adapt to issues as they pop up.

5. Perfection: The pursuit of perfection via process improvements is also known as ‘Kaizen’. Lean manufacturing requires ongoing assessment and improvement of processes and procedures to continually eliminate waste. To make a difference, continuous improvement should be integrated through the culture of an organisation and requires the measurement of metrics such as lead-times, production, throughput and flow.

It is important for the the business to use the above as a basis for culture, which means if you work this way it will/should eventually become part of how you work, in other words the culture of the organisation.


Lean was previously seen as a collection of tools and techniques, but it is now widely recognised as a fundamental business philosophy. It has the potential to change the way you work forever.


As always we would love to talk to you about your upcoming work and conyeyor projects, feel free to reach out and let us know how we can help.

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