7 Feb

Top Lean Manufacturing Principles to Reduce Waste

These lean manufacturing principles can help reduce waste and identify where and how to streamline operations.

Lean Manufacturing
Top Lean Manufacturing Principles to Reduce Waste
Lean Manufacturing
Lean Manufacturing
Food & Beverages Processing
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Consumer Product Goods
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Material Building & Construction
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Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)
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Pharmaceuticals & Supplements
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Packaging & Co-manufacturing
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Lean Manufacturing

Implementing lean into an organization is a bigger job than merely initiating an improvement program. Classic lean is a methodology focused on continuous improvement through an entire organization’s efforts. Though specific projects or programs can exist within a lean implementation, the overall concept is the continual elimination of any costs or activities that do not contribute value to the customer. One significant area of opportunity that should not be overlooked is the elimination of waste as it is defined under lean.

What Are the 5 Lean Management Principles?

Lean manufacturing principles include eliminating waste or non-value-added activities from across the manufacturing operation through its five core principles:

  1. Define Value: Clearly articulate the value that each process adds to the overall production, ensuring a focus on meaningful contributions.
  2. Map the Value Stream: Visualize and analyze the entire value stream, from raw materials to the end product, to identify areas for improvement and streamline processes.
  3. Create Flow: Optimize the flow of work by minimizing interruptions and bottlenecks, ensuring a smooth and continuous production process.
  4. Establish a Pull System: Implement a pull-based system where production is based on actual demand, reducing excess inventory and avoiding overproduction.
  5. Pursue Perfection: Foster a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging teams to consistently seek ways to enhance processes and eliminate waste, embodying the essence of Lean Management.

Apply Lean Principles to Capture Saving from Each Type of Waste

Removing or reducing waste across the value stream is accomplished by applying different lean principles to each type of waste. A successful lean program means making significant process improvements. Managers striving to implement lean manufacturing principles can begin by reviewing the following list of waste.  


Principle:  Eliminate unnecessary transport, relocation, and motions of materials, tools, and people.  

Excess motion can occur between workstations, along production lines, or across the factory floor. Examine transport methods, volumes, and wait times. Use flow diagramming to design shorter travel distances, improve the placement of resources, and reduce handling. Walking distances for personnel might also be shortened this way.


Principle: Balance raw material and production against customer demands to reduce excess inventories.

Excess inventory often represents costs that can be eliminated. Implementing Just-In-Time Inventory Management can help eliminate unnecessary inventory which frees plant and warehouse space, and reduces costs and the risk of damage or obsolescence.  


Principle: Analyze workplace and process flows to eliminate non-value-added movement.

Each workstation should be analyzed to eliminate unnecessary employee reaches, grasps, pick-ups, or moves. Also, this lean manufacturing principle can be applied to machine operations and moving distances. Equipment can be modified or adjusted to minimize the travel distance of the product, raw material, or packaging materials.


Principle: Eliminate any wait times for material, people, or equipment within or between operations. Ensure flows are balanced.

Unnecessary costs are added to a product whenever a material, machine, or employee waits during the product’s processing. Balancing process flows can reduce wait times, and managers should ensure output from one operation is correctly sized for the subsequent operation. Further, all production flows must be balanced to total customer order fulfillment rates.


Principle: Eliminate non-value-added process steps.

When processing steps do not add value for the customer, the steps incur unnecessary costs and represent waste. Analysis of a product’s manufacturing steps can uncover opportunities to reduce excess processing. An example of over-processing is double-checking a product’s quality when a single check is sufficient.


Principle: Eliminate excess work-in-process and finished goods inventory.

Excess inventories result from overproducing a part, sub-assembly, or finished product. These inventories are present as work-in-process or finished goods inventory. Analyzing this type of waste is especially important in continuous improvement in food processing where the product is easily spoiled, damaged, or adversely impacted by the environment.


Principle:  Eliminate all defects along the process flow and work toward “perfect” product quality.  

Defective products are easily recognizable as waste. Any rejected product that must be reworked or discarded adds cost to the total product for the customer. Eliminating this waste is a lean objective. Incorrectly setting quality control limits may cause the rejection of an acceptable product or the acceptance of a defective product. Process flows, control limits, and operating procedures should be analyzed to determine whether limits are correctly set and whether each step is necessary and adds value.  

Waste Can Be Found Across the Organization

In addition to the above seven deadly wastes, managers have identified other areas where waste can be eliminated. These include underutilized talent, missed opportunities, and incoming raw material defects. These may be a result of:

  1. Poor Communication: Breakdowns in information flow hinder collaboration and contribute to inefficiencies.
  2. Misuse of Ability and Lack of Training: Inadequate utilization of employee skills and insufficient training results in suboptimal performance.
  3. Missed Opportunities: Failure to identify bottlenecks, and seize efficiencies represents lost opportunities that have the potential to boost profitability.
  4. Poor Management: Ineffective leadership or management practices can lead to subpar decision-making, unmotivated workers, and operational lapses. Core to lean manufacturing, implementing a Kaizen approach to continuous improvement can help you empower workers, increase accountability, and promote innovation.
  5. Ineffective Policies: Policies lacking consistency, clarity, or relevance can impede productivity and contribute to wasteful practices.
  6. Lack of Kanban System Implementation: Not leveraging a Kanban system can lead to inefficient workflow management and hinder the smooth progression of tasks. Implementing a Kanban system enhances visual management and real-time task prioritization, reducing delays and bottlenecks.

Reclaiming waste costs should be a top priority on any plant manager’s “to-do” list. A quick, easy, and affordable solution for cutting waste is utilizing the power of Worximity’s OEE and real-time production monitoring software. Using the latest in IoT technologies, Worximity delivers a practical, no-nonsense approach to monitoring your production floor.  

Worximity monitors production via sensors strategically placed on a production line or through direct PLC connectivity. Real-time performance data is then wirelessly transmitted to a cloud-based software where key metrics, such as machine availability, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), production rate, etc. are calculated and displayed on shop-floor dashboards. As minute-to-minute conditions change, any deviation from the expected performance is immediately noted, and employees can take corrective actions. To witness the capabilities of Worximity contact us to schedule a demo.  

Managers can use lean manufacturing principles throughout a plant’s processes to improve workflows as well as identify and eliminate costs. Losses through waste can be significant and efforts focused on waste elimination can pay big dividends. Implementing lean manufacturing principles to minimize waste and miscellaneous losses, should be an ongoing practice for companies dedicated to continuous improvement and striving to build more efficient value streams.

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