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Lean Production

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Lean Production

Does it bother you when you see a lot of cooked and prepared food being wasted and thrown away? Or when your best friend is overburdened with a lot of work at the office? Think of a bus whose capacity is 30 people but only carries 3 passengers at noon and 40 passengers in the evening. The above situations can result in decreased productivity, overburden, or a waste of resources. We must comprehend the systems that gave rise to this problem in order to find a solution.

Lean production methodology is one technique that can help attain optimal solutions if used properly. Let's take a closer look at lean production and its principles.

Definition of lean production

Lean production refers to a technique that helps eliminate waste and inefficiency in the production process. Here, waste can be defined as anything that does not add value to the production process and for customers.

What Is lean manufacturing?

Lean production, also known as lean manufacturing, eliminates all kinds of possible waste at all levels of production to increase the value for customers. The concept of lean manufacturing was developed by Toyota to reduce waste and inefficiency in their manufacturing process.

When Sakichi Toyoda founded Toyota and began manufacturing automobiles, the company's volume of production was small compared to giants like Ford at that time. Eiji Toyoda, Sakichi's nephew, went to study Ford's manufacturing system, but soon realized that it couldn't match the mass manufacturing technique of Ford. So the firm collaborated with Taiichi Ohno to design a production process to meet the needs of Japanese customers. They concluded that the best system would be to manufacture according to current requirements and use advanced machines to produce high-quality products faster and at a lower cost. This method came to be known as the 'Toyota Production System' which is now also referred to as Lean Production.

System of lean production

The lean production system emphasises the 3 main elements that need to be considered and eliminated in the process of production. These elements are discussed below in detail.

Muda - Waste elimination

‘Muda’ refers to all kinds of waste. Lean production methodology states that there are 7 types of waste that can be eliminated to add value to products.

Defects

Defects can result in heavy losses. It is very important to try and eliminate any defects as early as possible. Lean production suggests that defects can be prevented by checking the production in the first place which can stop them from happening or removed from the final steps of production.

Waiting

Waiting is another kind of waste that lean production methodology suggests eliminating. Waiting refers to the time spent waiting to start the next process or interruptions in the overall production process. Lean production suggests that constant and continuous production should be maintained to avoid resource waste.

A simple example of waiting that everyone can relate to is McDonald's. Imagine, a customer orders a burger, the patty is fried and ready, but it does not move to the next stage of 'assembly of the full burger' for about 15 minutes - so the waiting time here is 15 minutes. The patty is cold when the customer is given the burger. The customer is annoyed and refuses to take the burger, so they ask for a replacement resulting in the waste of that burger and the need to use additional resources.

Hence, just a 15-minute waiting time in the production process can lead to waste. It is important for businesses like McDonald's to avoid such waiting times. Production should aim to make the process of making burgers continuous.

Overproduction

Producing little more than the demand is all right but overproduction way beyond demand can be risky and result in resource wastage. Hence, lean production suggests eliminating overproduction waste.

Inventory

Finished goods that have not been sold or the production of unfinished goods that have not been moved to the next production stage can create waste.

Transport

The cost involved in transportation can lead to waste. Movement of material or finished goods should be planned so as to avoid waste of resources.

Processing

Unnecessary and unrequested over-processing of products can lead to waste.

Motion

The movement of elements within the organization must be minimized and the path should be planned out in advance to avoid time waste.

Mura

‘Mura’ means unevenness in the production process. It is any kind of non-uniformity in manufacturing that can lead to Muda, which refers to general product waste. Lean production suggests that all processes should be uniform, which can help in ongoing levelled production, avoiding the accumulation of waste or overproduction.

Mura can be avoided with the Just-in-Time (JIT) production system which suggests producing only when there is demand for the product, in the right quantity and the right place.

To learn more about JIT check out our explanation Just-in-time production

In reality, it is very difficult to understand the optimal level of production due to ever-changing demands. But if the production changes in sync with demand, one can avoid Mura.

In the warehouse, where labour is demanded on a day-to-day basis, there is a high chance of Mura. For example, a company might summon 5 employees on Day 1 when there is a surplus of work. On Day 2, when the workload is scarce, 8 employees are called in. This creates an unevenness of labour.

Muri

Muri refers to the overburden. Overburden can happen for both people and machines. Anything that is used beyond its optimal capacity can give negative results. Similarly, if the machines or humans are overburdened with work, it can lead to inefficiency or failure in overall productivity. Muri can be caused by Mura (unevenness) and also excessive removal of Muda (waste).

Muri can be understood in very simple terms of day-to-day life. Most employees are overburdened with work due to cost-cutting and are expected to work overtime or finish the work beyond their capacity to complete a task in a set time. This could result in health issues for the employees, eventually leading to less productivity. Lean production suggests that it is very important to balance Muda, Mura, and Muri to increase productivity and add value to the customers.

Principles of lean production

The 5 principles of lean production were designed by James Womack and Daniel Jones:

Lean Production, principles of lean production, StudySmarterFigure 1. Lean Production Principles, StudySmarter

Value

The first principle of lean production is value. 'Value' here refers to the benefits that the customers get from the products. Lean methodology suggests that the production system should be such that it adds value to the customers. Value is customer-focused and not company focused.

Value stream

The next principle of lean production is the value stream. Value stream means defining the process of how to manufacture the product in a way that can add value to the customers. Value streams call for a flowchart to be created for each process that may be involved in the production process. Also, If any process is not required or does not add value, it should be discarded.

Flow

The third principle is flow. Flow is the smooth functioning of the value stream process which is defined in the earlier principles. Flow refers to the fact that once all the unnecessary processes have been discarded, the production should run more smoothly without any blocks or delays.

Pull

Pull is the fourth principle of lean production. Once the production flow is in place and there are no bottlenecks in the process, it is possible to deliver the products as demanded. Pull refers to just-in-time production and delivery process. With improved flow, it is possible to give the customer the product when demanded, at the right time and in the right quantity. This results in reduction of stock and inventory costs and adds value to the customers.

Perfection

The last and most important principle is perfection. Lean production suggests that it is important that all members of the organisation are involved in the production process and that all are following the lean production system. As we know the world is ever-changing and demand keeps changing constantly, so it is very important to keep up with the customer's demand and lean production should become an essential part of the production process in the company.

Examples of lean production

Let us take an example of a bagel manufacturing company. Before the application of a lean production methodology, there was a waste of 1500 bagels per day due to the difference in size, shapes, different baking processes, etc. The managers decided to have a close look into all the processes and use a lean methodology, correcting the system right where it was resulting in the waste.

During their analysis, they found a difference in the processing of each batch, which resulted in a varied production process. Also, inventory was not counted and maintained in the same way for all batches, hence resulting in waste. After correcting the process and following the lean production principle, the waste was reduced to about 50 pieces a day.

The lean production system was developed long ago and is still used in organisations. The system can help in improving processes to a greater extent and at the same time, it adds value for customers. Lean methodology helps with achieving zero waste or maximally reducing waste and balances the production process to get the optimal solution.

Lean production - Key takeaways

  • Lean production refers to the technique which helps eliminate the maximum level of waste and inefficiency in the production process.
  • Lean manufacturing was developed by Toyota.
  • Lean production methodology states that there are 7 types of waste that can be eliminated to add value to products.
  • ‘Mura’ means unevenness in the production process. Any kind of non-uniformity in manufacturing can lead to Muda, which means waste of all kinds.
  • Mura can be avoided with the just-in-time production system, which suggests producing as and when the product is demanded - at the right time, in the right quantity, and in the right place.
  • Muri refers to overburden. Overburden can be for the people or even machines. Anything that is used beyond its optimal capacity can give negative results.
  • The 5 principles of lean production are:
    • Value
    • Value Stream
    • Flow
    • Pull
    • Perfection.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lean Production

Lean production refers to a technique that helps eliminate waste and inefficiency in the production process. Here, waste can be defined as anything that does not add value to the production process and for customers. It eliminates all kinds of possible waste at all levels of production to increase the value for customers.

Just-in-time (JIT) is a production method where a business only produces what is required to keep the stock level at a minimum, making sure that no surplus is produced, thereby reducing or avoiding waste. 


Lean production refers to a technique that helps eliminate waste and inefficiency in the production process, also aimed at reducing or avoiding waste to add value to the production process and for the customers.

A bakery baked 500 muffins per day, which lead to wastage of about 150 per day. The application of lean production helped the bakery reduce their waste by 75%.

The 5 principles of lean production are: 

  • Value
  • Value Stream
  • Flow
  • Pull
  • Perfection. 

The purpose of lean production is to reduce waste during the production process to increase the value of the production process, and the value for customers.

Final Lean Production Quiz

Question

What is Lean Production?

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Answer

Lean production refers to the technique which helps eliminate the maximum level of waste and inefficiency in the production process.

Show question

Question

Define Waste under lean production?

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Answer

Waste can be defined as anything that does not add value in the production process for the customers. 

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Question

What is Muda?

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Answer

‘Muda’  refers to all kinds of waste. Lean production methodology states that there are 7 types of waste that can be eliminated to add value to the products.

Show question

Question

What is Mura?

Show answer

Answer

‘Mura’ means unevenness in the production process. It is any kind of non-uniformity in the manufacturing which can lead to Muda which is waste of all kinds.

Show question

Question

How can Mura be avoided?

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Answer

Mura can be avoided with the Just in time production system which suggests to produce as and when demanded at the right time, in the right quantity and the right place. 

Show question

Question

What is Muri?

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Answer

Muri refers to the Overburden.  Overburden can be for the people or even machines. Anything that is used beyond its optimal capacity can give negative results.

Show question

Question

What are the 5 principles of Lean Productions?

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Answer

The 5 principles of Lean productions are: 
1. Value
2. Value Stream
3. Flow
4. Pull
5. Perfection. 

Show question

Question

What are 7 types of waste in lean production?

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Answer

Lean production methodology states that there are 7 types of waste that can be eliminated to add value to the products.


1.Defects 

2.Waiting 

3.Overproduction

4.Inventory 

5.Transport

6.Processing 

7.Motion


Show question

Question

What is the first principle of lean production?

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Answer

The principle of lean production is Value. Value here refers to the benefits that the customers get from the products. Lean methodology suggests that the production system should be such that it adds value to the customers. Value is customer focused and not company focused.  

Show question

Question

What does Value stream refers to in lean production?

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Answer

The next principle of lean production is the Value stream. Value stream means defining the process on how to produce the product that can add value to the customers. Value streams that the flowchart should be created of each process that may be involved in the production process. Also, If any process is not required or does not add value, it should be discarded.  

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Question

Explain the third principle of the lean production?

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Answer

The third principle is Flow.  Flow is the smooth functioning of the value stream process which is defined in the earlier principle. Flow refers to the fact that once all the unnecessary processes have been discarded, the production should run more smoothly with any blocks or delays.  

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Question

What is Pull in lean production principle?

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Answer

Pull is the fourth principle of Lean production. Once the production flow is in place and there are no bottlenecks in  the process, it is possible to deliver the products as may be demanded. Pull refers to the ‘Just in time’ production and delivery process. With the improved flow, it is possible to give the customer the product as and when demanded in the right time and in the right quantity. This results in reductions of stocks and inventory cost is reduced adding values to the customers.  

Show question

Question

Why is perfection an important principle of lean production?

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Answer

The last and most important principle is Perfection. Lean production suggests that it is important that all are involved in the production process and that all are following the lean production system. As we know the world is ever changing and demand keeps changing constantly, it is very important to keep up with the customer's demand and that lean production should become part and parcel of the production process in the company. 

Show question

Question

What can cause Muri?

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Answer

Muri can be caused by Mura(Unevenness) and also excessive removal of Muda(Waste).  

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Question

How can waiting lead to waste?

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Answer

Waiting is another kind of waste that lean production methodology suggests on eliminating. Waiting refers to the time spent waiting to start the next process or interruption in the overall production process. Lean production suggests that constant production should be maintained to avoid resource waste.  

Show question

Question

Principles of lean production include ..., value steam, ..., ..., and perfection.

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Answer

value, pull, flow

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Question

'Value' in lean production refers to the benefits that the customers get from the products.

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Answer

True

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Question

Value stream means defining the process of how to produce the product in a way that can ... to the customers 

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Answer

add value

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Flow is the ... of the value stream process which is defined in the earlier principles. 


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Answer

smooth functioning 

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Pull refers to the ... production and delivery process.  


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Answer

just-in-time 

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What are the benefits of 'pull' principle in lean production?

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Answer

give the customer the product when demanded 

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Question

All members of the organisation should be involved in the production process and following the lean production system.


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Answer

True

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Question

The lean production system consists of ...

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Answer

Muda, Mura

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Question

What element of lean production system is known as 'waste elimination'?

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Answer

Muda

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Question

Mura consists of 7 types of waste, which are defects, waiting, ..., ..., ..., processing, and motion. 

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Answer

overproduction, inventory, transport

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Over-processing of products that are not the customer’s requirement can lead to waste which is suggested to be eliminated by ... 


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Answer

lean manufacturing 

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Question

... in manufacturing that can lead to Muda 

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Answer

Non-uniformity in manufacturing that can lead to Muda 

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Question

Lean production refers to a technique that helps eliminate the maximum level of ... in the production process. 


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Answer

 waste and inefficiency 

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