Features and Benefits of Lean Production

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Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction. 2

2.0 Main Principles of Lean Production. 3

3.0 Benefits of Lean Production Over Craft and Mass Production. 4

4.0 Conclusion. 8

5.0 References. 11

1.0 Introduction

Lean production is a type of systematic method, which is related to the identification and elimination of waste. It includes the various tools of manufacturing that can be used for the identification and elimination of the waste (McBride, 2003). In other words, lean production is related to the best processes, operations, and practices that can be used to optimise the resources and produce the best products for the consumer. Lean manufacturing in general is not a kind of instant transition or extension of traditional thinking. In fact, it is a set of innovative thought processes that require giving up of some old paradigms. It is well known fact that lean production system has helped many companies over the few years, to save millions of dollars in the manufacturing and other related processes. However, it is a fact that many manufacturers did not become successful to convert their system into lean production system and this fact baffle many entrepreneurs since the reward for this change have been phenomenal for many industries. It was highly unlikely that such a beneficial production system was missed by many entrepreneurs; even though some of the principles of lean production were quite affordable to implement (Stevenson, 2005).

Some people consider lean production as a management philosophy, which was derived by TPS (Toyota Production System). TPS is a set of rules and principles that Toyota; one of the largest car manufacturing company in the world uses for their production and manufacturing processes. TPS has become famous for its emphasis on the reduction of Toyota seven wastes; to improve overall customer value. TPS is often analysed by the management scholars to understand the study growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world’s largest car manufacturing company (EMSConsulting, 2012).
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 Lean production is also sometimes called JIT (Just in Time) or Agile Manufacturing, from the sense that it is like an operating strategy that can be used to maximize the operational effectiveness in the production and manufacturing of products, by creating value in front of the eyes of the consumer. This paper deals with the implications of the statement – “…. Lean production combines the features of both craft production and mass production – the ability to reduce cost per unit and dramatically improve quality.”

2.0 Main Principles of Lean Production

Lean production is responsible for the improvement of operating performance by the emphasis on the uninterrupted and quick flow of raw materials and products through the value stream. The 5 basic principles on which the lean production work are as follows: —

  1. Specifying value by specific product: — The main motivation of a famous company is to provide valuation of the product to the consumer. Providing value of the product to the customer is crucial for the success of any company, either small or large. Value of any product is generally defined by the customer and is only beneficial when expressed in terms of specific product that can meet the demands and requirements of the customer. Most of the companies working today are only willing to define the value intrinsically. If the customer does not respond to the change in value of the product, then it would simply add more warnings or simply adjust the price of the product. However, they may lose the faith of the consumer in this approach and market the product that customers don’t want. Lean production refers to the lean thinking where the main motivation of the company is to rethink value from the perspective of the consumer, to make the product more marketable and attractive.
  2. Identifying the value stream for product: — The value stream of any company refers to the set of processes and operations that are required to bring the specific product from raw materials to the final finished product in the hands of the customer. Lean production refers to the analysis of this whole set to discard the unnecessary operations and processes that are not crucial to produce the main product.
  3. Make the value flow without any disturbance: — After the successful specification of the value, the value stream for the product should be fully mapped by the company and some wasteful steps should be eliminated, so that the remaining steps can flow uniformly. These activities ensure the proper flow of the production that further support the product to flow through different operations and sequences in batches (Puvanasvaran, 2010).
  4. Let the customer recognise value from the producer: — The 4th main principle of lean production is to provide the consumer a chance to recognise the value of the product and ask for the delivery much before the final production. Lean systems can make any product, which is in the production in any combination, in a way so that shifting demand can be accommodated easily.
  5. Pursue perfection: — The 5th and final principle of lean production is to pursue perfection. After the company successfully achieve all the earlier 4 principle steps of lean production, then the main motivation of the company becomes to provide perfection in all these steps. The principles interact with each other and get the value to flow faster and expose hidden waste in the value stream. All the concerned departments work together in this principle to provide perfection to the whole production and manufacturing process (Pettersen, 2009).

3.0 Benefits of Lean Production Over Craft and Mass Production

Lean production is like an amalgamation of the best features of both craft and mass production. There are many shortcomings of both craft and mass production, which can be mitigated with the implementation of features and benefits of lean production in the manufacturing and production process of any company. Craft manufacturing refers to the type of manufacturing or production approach which is handmade, i.e. the products are made with the help of old classical handicraft method. Some of the earlier 19th century car manufacturing companies of America like Aston Martin had adopted this approach to produce luxury cars for the rich and elite class people (Simpson, 2011). However, craft production has following drawbacks: —
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  1. The amount of time and effort required in craft production was large.
  2. Every product was not in the approximate standard size and some differences were found in the finished product.
  3. Craft manufacturing cannot be used in mass production since the process is slow and needs lot of experienced craft workers.
  4. The profit made in craft manufacturing is certainly smaller as compared to mass production due to less margin in cost and sales.
  5. Craft production became obsolete in many industries due to requirement of mass production, however, it is still prevalent in some industries where classical luxury items are considered.

Craft production is generally considered reputable in nature as each product is produced with utmost perfection and through unique manufacturing process. However, this production approach has some drawbacks since it can hurt the overall production process if the assembly is not completed. Many earlier American companies adopted this method to provide the best crafted product to the consumer. There are still some industries like the music equipment production company that still uses craft production (Singh, 2010).

After the end of 19th century, craft production had lost its fame and a new production approach called mass production came into existence. Mass production was discovered by F. W. Taylor during the year 1903. Mass production is the production approach of manufacturing large quantities of standardize products, through the utilization of latest technologies used for the production and assembly line (Bruce, 2012). The 4 main principles of mass production are as follows: —

  1. The first principle of mass production is the recognition and replacement of working by the rule of thumb, i.e. using common sense and simple habit, and using the scientific method in its replacement.
  2. The second principle of the mass production is the motivation of workers by best methods of inspiration. It involves match the job of the worker with their skills, based on the capability and motivation, and therefore providing them training for better efficiency.
  3. The 3rd principle of mass production is to monitor the performance of the workers and provide them instruction and supervision.
  4. The 4th and final principle of mass production is to allocate the work among managers and workers in a way so that the managers can spend their most of the time for planning and training, so that the workers can provide maximum time to perform their tasks efficiently and smoothly (Kumar, 2013).

Finally, the features and benefits of lean production approach came into existence during the early 1980’s in the market. Lean production was introduced to mitigate some of the discrepancies found within the mass production approach. One of the most common drawbacks of mass production was wastage of resources. The automated assembly used in mass production was prone to errors and capital intensive. If there is any error or issue in the production design, then a large amount of cost was required to redesign and rebuild the entire mass production system again. This was the reason why a new approach of lean production had been introduced, to mitigate the drawbacks of mass production (Mente, 2004).
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The main reason of the success of lean production approach was the recognition of the main 7 wastes of the 7 crucial steps of manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain management of the company. These main 7 wastes are shown in the figure 1 below. The TPS (Toyota Production System) model had successfully implemented the lean production approach where the identification of main steps and wastes has been done effectively (Smalley, 2011). The 7 main wastes of lean production are as follow: —

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Figure 1. 7 Main Wastes of Lean Production (Muda, 2014)

  1. Wastes mitigation of transport: — There are many issues in the transportation process of products. Whenever a product is moved, then the chances of its damage, delay, or lost increases. In lean manufacturing the transportation of products is managed so that only the products that are actually required to perform the processing are moved.
  2. Wastes mitigation of inventory: — The inventory for any industry may be in the form of raw materials or unfinished goods that are not ready for the final supply to the consumer, represents a capital outlay that cannot be induced within the supply chain for making sales for the company. Any of such items that are not in the form of finished products are considered waste in lean production. So, these products are not processed in lean production approach.
  3. Wastes mitigation of motion: — Motion refers to the damage that a company incur in the form of either over time as in the case of wear and tear of machinery and injuries to the workers, or during some unusual events like accidents. In lean production, the motion is only done with the people or equipment that are moving or walking.
  4. Wastes mitigation in waiting: — There are many conditions in most of the industries when many processes of the production are in waiting condition. For example, when the goods are not in condition of transport or processing condition, then they are in waiting condition. This wastes is managed by some plausible strategies of lean production, by providing just in time production.
  5. Wastes mitigation in overprocessing: — Over processing happens when the more work is done on the product than required. Over processing is not beneficial for the company and many wastes come out due to poor quality machines and raw material. Lean production strategy recognizes these wastes within the processing and mitigation of wastes in the form of scrape is done.
  6. Wastes mitigation of over-production: — Over-production occurs when production of more product is done than required. Over-production can be managed with the help of just in time production strategies of lean production. Over-production can increase the chances of emerging the other wastes within the production, e.g. it can lead to excess inventory, which can create other wastes like waiting and defects.
  7. Wastes mitigation of defects: — Defects are another major form of wastes and it can decline the reliability of the products and thereby the company. Defects can be controlled by proper inspection, recognition and fixation before they occur.

4.0 Conclusion

Features and Benefits of Lean production approach has been very significant for many industries like the Toyota Automobiles that has become one of the world’s largest car manufacturing companies of the world after adopting the lean production strategies; via implementation of TPS in their business settings. The effective recognition of the 7 wastes and bottlenecks within the manufacturing system of the company has really helped to provide the finished product within the meantime and decreased the cost and expenses of the company to many folds. Lean production strategies can really help the company to provide customer satisfaction and also improve the quality of the product. The early recognition of wastes in the different processes of the production can help the company to manage and mitigate them.

Another benefit of lean production is management through sight. If the strategies of lean production are implemented properly, then the owner can evaluate the various processes of production from a single area of vision and recognise the abnormalities and provide proper suggestions for their mitigation at the same time. Lean production approach is also helpful in maintaining the efficiency of the production. By using line balancing, it can be ensured whether each person within the production system is working in the most efficient manner or not.

Lean production is a most plausible way for production management for many industries. However, it also has some drawbacks for some industries. In lean production strategy, a very small amount of inventory is kept for the supply, which may not be good in many cases. Lean production depends heavily on suppliers who provide products for the manufacturing process and this must be done without any interruption. In many cases of employee strike, quality errors, and transportation delays, lean production is not plausible since it can totally halt the whole supply process and the consumers may lose their confidence on the products, thereby a very large decline in the sales of products may occur. Lean production also requires high cost of implementation because its implementation requires starting the physical plants and setup again, which could be very costly for small and medium scale industries. Purchasing machinery and equipment to increase efficiency can also be very expensive for some industries.

Finally, it can be said that although there are some drawbacks in the implementation of lean production, but the overall benefits of lean production can cover the extra expenses. Meanwhile, the benefits of lean production are large and any company like Toyota is a great example for how a company can make large profits through lean production implementation. If any company is willing to implement the strategies of lean production in their company, then they can study the various cases of other already successful examples like Toyota. Lean production is a best choice for brands, where maintaining the image of company is crucial.

Number of Pages – 12

Word Count – 2500 words

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5.0 References

Kumar, N. e. a., 2013. Implementing lean manufacturing system: ISM approach. Journal of Industrial Eng

Bruce, W. e. a., 2012. Lean For Dummies 2nd Edition. London: s.n.

EMSConsulting, 2012. Lean Manufacturing. [Online]
Available at: http://www.emsstrategies.com/lean-manufacturing.html
[Accessed 5 Jaunuary 2017].

Kumar, N. e. a., 2013. Implementing lean manufacturing system: ISM approach. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, pp. 223-250.

McBride, D., 2003. Lean Overview. [Online]
Available at: http://www.emsstrategies.com/dm090203article1.html
[Accessed 5 January 2017].

Mente, B. D., 2004. Japan’s Cultural Code Words. Tokyo: s.n.

Muda, 2014. Different kinds of waste in lean manufacturing. [Online]
Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Different_kinds_of_waste_in_lean_manufacturing.png
[Accessed 5 January 2017].

Pettersen, J., 2009. Defining lean production: some conceptual and practical issues. The TQM Journal Defining lean Production , pp. 127-142.

Puvanasvaran, P. e. a., 2010. Lean process management implementation through enhanced. Journal of Industrial Eng. and Manag., pp. 447-493.

Simpson, T. W., 2011. Craft Production, the American System of Manufacturing, and Mass Production. [Online]
Available at: http://www.mne.psu.edu/simpson/courses/me546/lectures/me546.02.CP-ASM-MP.pdf
[Accessed 5 Jaunuary 2017].

Singh, B. e. a., 2010. Lean implementation and its benefits to production industry. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, pp. 157-168.

Smalley, A. &. K. I., 2011. Toyota Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement.. Tokyo: s.n.

Stevenson, W. J., 2005. Operations Management. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

Engineering and Management, pp. 223-250.

Pettersen, J., 2009. Defining lean production: some conceptual and practical issues. The TQM Journal Defining lean Production , pp. 127-142.

Puvanasvaran, P. e. a., 2010. Lean process management implementation through enhanced. Journal of Industrial Eng. and Manag., pp. 447-493.

Singh, B. e. a., 2010. Lean implementation and its benefits to production industry. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, pp. 157-168.

Stevenson, W. J., 2005. Operations Management. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.



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