Defining the Foundations of Lean Thinking

Lean manufacturing training remains an appealing option for many organizations for a variety of reasons. Mainly, Lean philosophy includes a diverse array of proven principles, tools and strategies that have not only demonstrated their success time and time again across a diverse array of industries, but a core tenant of Lean philosophy is continuous improvement. This seemingly simple (but in actuality rather complicated) concept compels an initial drive for positive change in the production line that encourages participants to actively strive to continue to better themselves, the manufacturing line and the product itself for the overall value of the consumer.

Modern Lean philosophy is the latest in a long, successful string of manufacturing philosophies that have emerged over the last fifty-odd years. Originally it was Toyota who developed many of the founding tenants and principles, tools and strategies that today form the core of modern Lean manufacturing concepts. From the 40s to the 70s, Toyota benefited greatly from a system that is referred to today as the Toyota Production System. Three individuals, Taiichi Ohno, Shiegeo Shingo and Eiji Toyoda, are widely recognized as the principal movers behind this production system. There was no one, specific guiding principle that dominated the thinking behind the development of this system. Instead, it was a continuous string of effective strategies they worked with and refined over the years that become the most notable aspects of the final system. Perhaps the most important aspect of this system that would carry over to Lean thinking was “the seven wastes.” This collection of processes and steps in the manufacturing line are seen as the principal causes of the biggest wastes. Traditionally, the seven wastes are identified as Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, and Defects. These broad terms belie deceptively deep insights into wasteful practices that all manufacturing lines…

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