Lean manufacturing (also known as lean production, just-in-time manufacturing and just-in-time production, or JIT) is a production method aimed primarily at reducing times within the production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers.

It is derived from Toyota‘s 1930 operating model “The Toyota Way” (Toyota Production System, TPS). The term “Lean” was coined in 1988 by John Krafcik, and defined in 1996 by James Womack and Daniel Jones to consist of five key principles: “Precisely specify value by specific product, identify the value stream for each product, make value flow without interruptions, let customer pull value from the producer, and pursue perfection.”

Companies employ the lean manufacturing strategy to increase efficiency. By receiving goods only as they need them for the production process, it reduces inventory costs and wastage, and increases productivity and profit. The downside is that it requires producers to forecast demand accurately as the benefits can be nullified by minor delays in the supply chain. It may also impact negatively on workers due to added stress and inflexible conditions. A successful operation depends on a company having regular outputs, high-quality processes, and reliable suppliers.

In summary, Lean manufacturing is an improvement approach based on the premise that work is accompanied by waste or non-value-added steps that should be minimized or eliminated.

Lean principles have been successfully applied to various sectors and services, such as call centers and healthcare. In the former, lean’s waste reduction practices have been used to reduce handle time, within and between agent variation, accent barriers, as well as attain near perfect process adherence. In the latter, several hospitals have adopted the idea of lean hospital, a concept that prioritizes the patient, thus increasing the employee commitment and motivation, as well as boosting medical quality and cost effectiveness.


Wikipedia. Lean manufacturing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing