Lean manufacturing quite simply is the production of goods using less of everything compared to traditional mass production. Less waste, less human effort, less manufacturing space, less investment in tools, and less engineering time to develop a new product are the initiatives of lean manufacturing. Lean Manufacturing is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continual improvement by flowing the product at the demand of the end customer. Best defined as a management philosophy that focuses on reducing waste in all business processes -lean manufacturing without vision can do more harm to your organization than good. Lean manufacturing is about questioning, challenging and changing the traditional ways of working.
Lean manufacturing is a generic process management philosophy derived from various innovative initiatives but mostly derived from the War Manpower Commission which led to the Toyota Production Systems. Lean implementation is therefore focused on getting the right things- to the right place- at the right time- in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow while minimizing waste and maximizing productivity while being flexible and able to change.
American industrialists recognized the threat of cheap offshore labor to American workers during the 1910s, and explicitly stated the goal of what is now called lean manufacturing as a countermeasure.
Henry Ford is undoubtedly one of America's greatest lean manufactures. His business practices, which included Just-in-time manufacturing that incorporated from Franklin. " This is now a foundation of lean manufacturing, because it is obvious that workers will not drive improvements they think will put them out of work." has made Ford an Icon.
Henry Ford continued this focus on waste while developing his mass assembly manufacturing system by enforcing very strict specification and quality criteria on component manufacture he eliminated this work almost entirely, this reduced manufacturing effort by between 60-90%.
Toyota's steady growth from a small player to the most valuable and the biggest car company in the world has focused attention upon how it has achieved this, making "Lean" a hot topic in management science in the first decade of the 21st century.
Lean is emerging as the most successfully applied efficiency and waste reduction system in all types of manufacturing environments and offices: health care,maintenance, military operations, engineering, software development, government systems, food processing, farming, and energy production. The Lean process itself almost always results in company growth due to the benefits gained of quicker deliveries, higher quality, and increased responsiveness to customers.
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