Lean manufacturing’s main idea is to preserve value with less work (which equates to fewer expenses for the manufacturing company). Lean manufacturing is derived from the management philosophy of the Toyota Production System (TPS). The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world’s largest automobile manufacturer has proven that lean manufacturing techniques are essential for growth.
Lean manufacturing processes have two main concepts: just-in-time and autonomation. Just-in-time is the theory that if production and sales flow smoothly and effectively then there will be no inventory on stock. Autonomation is achieved with a human touch. Machines and systems are designed to aid humans with what humans do best. An example would be to give machines the ability to know when they are malfunctioning and warn humans when malfunctions happen.¹ In a nutshell, lean manufacturing is, “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 being flexible and able to change."¹
1. Womack, James P., Jones, Daniel T., & Daniel Roos (1990). The Machine that Changed the World.