Chapter 1: Introduction to Lean Manufacturing


Lean manufacturing is the production method used to reduce production times as well as response times to customers.  Lean manufacturing adopts a method of manufacturing according to demand, but also attempts to reduce waste. Generally, this process will include marketing and customer service personnel who can identify the wants of its customer base and report back to the manufacturer (Kulkarni et al., 2021; Gil-Vilda et al., 2021). The transition from a traditional company to a lean company is complex and needs to be carefully organized in order to maximize income, reduce costs, and to improve productivity (Cimermancic et al., 2022; Pearce & Pons, 2013). Review the slides and video below to learn more about the history of manufacturing and the shift to lean manufacturing. Use the double pointed arrow in the lower right corner to expand slides to full screen.



Lean Operations

Lean refers to an item being as slim as possible, like there is no fat, no waste. The fat or waste in a company would be excessive or inefficient operations, but lean manufacturing has no waste (Boardman; Kulkari et al., 2021). There are eight kinds of waste (or ) in some models. They are: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing, defects, and skills. Lean manufacturing focuses on the five following concepts as a way to reduce all of these kinds of waste (Boardman; Brown, 2020; de Bucourt et al., 2011).

Value and Value Stream

Value Stream Mapping of Rope Manufacturing
Value Stream Mapping of Rope Manufacturing (Yuvamitra, et al. 2017). Select the image to enlarge.

This concept is defined by the customer. The organization must have a clear understanding of what value is for the customer. It is wasteful to create a product that customers do not find value in buying (ASCM, 2022). Data provided by continuous customer feedback is how this concept is defined and constantly adapted to meet the needs of the customer base (Boardman). Consider the surveys provided at the end of receipts to elicit feedback on your shopping experience. This type of feedback is important for an organization to adapt with trends and demands.

To track the value of a product, a value stream map can identify the activities that add value or not, including the processes that are essential and cannot be eliminated. Terms to know are , , and (Boardman). Learn more about value stream mapping from these resources:

Please also review this series of six videos that provide clear lessons on how to do Value Steam Mapping.


Flow is defined is characterized by continuously moving through the manufacturing process without time to pause in storage or in transport. Flow eliminates batches and queues from the system so the product continuously moves without delay. Flow should complement the market demand, to keep the process clean and consistent (Boardman; Saylor). Consistent flow reduces waste caused by starting and stopping the production process (ASCM, 2022).

Flow is increased by eliminating bottlenecks. Consider a business a wide mouth jar and a bottle. When the process is consistent and the flow meeting the needs of demand, there is nothing to slow it down as it exits the facility (or jar, for this example). But, if the company is a bottle, when the flow reaches the neck of the bottle, the flow is delayed. This is where the process is running at the least capacity, slowing the flow of the product to the customer. Eliminating these bottlenecks will improve the flow and reduce waste (Boardman; Virasak).

Pull and Pursuit of Perfection

"Rope Pulling" by r4n is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
Customers must pull for products in order for them to be developed in the lean manufacturing model. “Rope Pulling” by r4n is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In this lean system, a product is not created until it is asked for by the customer, until it is pulled by the customer rather than pushed by the system. Reduction in lead times to meet the demands of the pull will reduce wasted time spent in storage or transport. These processes are always continuously improving (also known as ), manufacturers encourage internal competition to be more perfect than they were yesterday (Kulkari et al., 2021; ASCM, 2022). Many companies implement continuous improvement practices to promote competition within their field, in addition to the internal structure. (Huang et al 2022).




Association for Supply Chain Management (2022). Lean manufacturing. ASCM.

Boardman, B. (n.d.). Introduction to industrial engineering. UTA. Retrieved on July 26, 2022 from

Brown, M. (2020). SC2020: Toyota production system & supply chain. MIT Global Scale Network.

Cimermancic, D., Kusar, J., & Berlec, T. (2022). A procedure for the introduction of leanness into a company. Central European Journal of Operations Research, 30.

Corbett, P., Janssen, V., Lund, J., Pfannestiel, T., Vickery, P., & Waskiewics, S. (n.d.) U.S. History. OpenStax. Retrieved July 25, 2022 from

Dennis, P. (2016). Lean production simplified : a plain-language guide to the world’s most powerful production system (Third). CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

de Bucourt, M., Busse, R., Güttler, F., Wintzer, C., Collettini, F., Kloeters, C., Hamm, B., & Teichgraber, U. (2011) Lean manufacturing and Toyota Production System terminology applied to the procurement of vascular stents in interventional radiology. Insights Imaging 2, 415–423

Engineeers Academy (2021, August 27). An introduction to lean manufacturing: Work and manufacturing processes [Video]. YouTube.

FlowPlus (2021, February 5). #4 free lean six sigma green belt: The history of lean manufacturing [Video]. YouTube.

Gil-Vilda, F., Yague-Fabra, J., & Sunyer, A. (2021). From lean production to lean 4.0: A systematic literature review with historical perspective. Applied Sciences, 11(21).

Girdler, A. (2020, February 5). How to value stream map [Video]. YouTube.

Kulkarni, S., Nagare, R., Nagare, D., & Aware, P. (2021). Toyota production system – Maximizing production efficiency by waste elimination. International Advanced Research Journal in Science, Engineering, and Technology, 8(4).  DOI: 10.17148/IARJSET.2021.8448

“Lean Manufacturing” (2022, July 4). Wikipedia.

LeanVlog (2017, November 26). How to do value stream mapping [Video]. YouTube.

LeanVlog (2018, March 17). How to do value stream mapping: Customer demand [Video]. YouTube.

LeanVlog (2018, June 16). How to do value stream mapping: The process box [Video]. YouTube.

LeanVlog (2018, November 18). How to do value stream mapping: The material flow [Video]. YouTube.

LeanVlog (2019, May 25). How to do value stream mapping: The information flow [Video]. YouTube.

LeanVlog (2019, August 31). How to do value stream mapping: The time ladder [Video]. YouTube.

“Muda (Japanese term)”. (2022, June 22). Wikipedia.

Pearce, A. & Pons, D. (2013). Implementing lean practices: Managing the transformation risks. Journal of Industrial Engineering.

Salwin, M., Jacyna-Golda, I., Banka, M., Varanchuk, D., & Gavina, A. (2021). Using value stream mapping to eliminate waste: A case study of a steel pipe manufacturer. Energies, 14(12).

Saylor Academy (n.d.). Operations management. NSCC. Retrieved on July 26, 2022 from

Virasak, L (n.d.) Manufacturing processes 4-5. Open Oregon. Retrieved on July 26, 2022 from

Yuvamitra, K., Lee, J., & Dong, K. (2017). Value stream mapping of rope manufacturing: A case study. International Journal of Manufacturing Engineering.


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SPC and Lean Manufacturing by Andrea Bearman and Roberta Gagnon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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