Increasing Value & Decreasing Waste with Lean Manufacturing

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Lean manufacturing is at root about increasing the value an organization provides to its customers and decreasing waste. Lean organizations do this by creating a process of continuous improvement that places an emphasis on organizational learning.

We’ll explain more in this article on these foundational concepts of lean manufacturing.

Lean and Value

From a lean perspective, value is considered from the customer’s perspective. In short, value is what your customer is willing to pay for.

Your goal in lean manufacturing is to increase the value your products provide to the customer. It’s important to understand the voice of the customer to do this.

Lean tools such as value stream mapping and kanban can help you identify where you’re currently creating value and where you’re currently creating waste. Kaizen can help you increase value and decrease waste, and poka-yoke.

Lean and Waste

Waste is something your customer doesn’t want to pay for. It doesn’t bring value to them.

There may be some cases when you’re required to do something in your production process that the customer doesn’t seem as adding value. For example, there may be regulatory compliance requirements you have to abide by even if a customer doesn’t value them.

Other than that, though, your ultimate goal should be to identify and remove waste as much as possible.

There are a few common ways to think of waste at work.

The first is to break waste down into three categories known in lean by the Japanese words muda, mura, and muri:

  • Muda: This is waste in the most obvious sense–something unnecessary
  • Mura: This means unevenness or irregularity
  • Muri: Means overburden

Download our free Three Wastes of Lean infographic for more on this.

The second way to think of waste at work is further break down muda, meaning something unnecessary, into different sub-categories. In lean, this is often presented in 7 or 8 categories. The different types of muda (waste) in lean are:

  • Overproduction
  • Inventory
  • Unnecessary motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-processing
  • Defects
  • Unnecessary transportation

You’ll also sometimes see underutilized employee ability added to this list. You can probably come up with one or two more on your own as well.

For more on this, download our free Seven Wastes of Lean infographic.

Kaizen and gemba walks are great ways to begin identifying waste.

Conclusion: Implement Lean to Increase Value and Reduce Waste

We hope this brief introduction to value and waste in lean manufacturing was helpful to you. Good luck on your lean journey, let us know if we can help you with online lean manufacturing training courses, and please share comments belong in the comments area.

For even more on lean, download our Five Principles of Lean Manufacturing infographic before you go!

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Free Five Principles of Lean Download

Download this free infographic explaining the five principles of lean manufacturing as listed in the book The Machine that Changed the World.

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Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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