What is Lean?

Lean manufacturing is a methodical approach to reducing waste in a process or production system.  It is helpful to recognize and analyze each of seven different types of waste identified by the Lean approach, they are:

  1. Transport - Excessive movement of products between production steps wastes time and resources, and allows more opportunity for damage or loss.
  2. Inventory - Keeping inventory at optimal levels can reduce the amount of storage space needed.
  3. Motion - Reducing the amount of motion required to perform a part of the process (e.g. arranging needed tools in close proximity to where they will be used, or moving items to be unloaded closer to the place they will be stored or put into use).
  4. Waiting - Minimizing the amount of wait time at different points in a process to reduce wasted resources (e.g. workers standing by waiting to perform their function in the process).
  5. Over-production - Producing more than is needed resulting in wasted raw materials.
  6. Over-processing - Resulting from poor training, poor design, or poor selection of tools to be used.
  7. Defects - Non-conforming products waste time and raw materials.