Lean Manufacturing

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The globalized and competitive market has required constant efforts of organizations, encouraging them to develop more sophisticated strategies to achieve continuous improvement and thus survive the incessant need for change demanded by customers and by the presence of competitors. In this context, the evolution of the global aviation market, organizations that integrate the supply chain also felt the need to pursue the continuous improvement of its processes, notably through the certification of Quality Management System (QMS) in accordance with ISO 9001. However, it was noted that this standard did not meet some requirements of the sector.
Waste can be defined as any activity that consumes resources but adds no value to the customer. The seven wastes of the production system of lean manufacturing must be tackled are: overproduction, waiting, transport, processing, inventory, motion and defect. The wastes are everywhere, and one of the ways to combat them, can be by lean thinking. The Lean Thinking means doing more with less (manpower, equipment, time and space) and trying to meet customer requirements.


  • Reducing waste;
  • Increasing productivity;
  • Introducing innovative practices for improving overall competitiveness;
  • Inculcating good management systems;
  • Imbibing a culture of continuous improvement.

Lean Manufacturing is a set of techniques, which have evolved over a long period and are based on various minor to major breakthroughs that help in reducing cost and hence increase productivity and competitiveness. A list of main LM techniques with brief description of each is given below:

  1. 5S System: The 5S systems is a workplace management which helps in getting the “junk” out of the work area and set of procedures to keep it that way. 5S stands for Sort, set in order, Shine, Standardize & Sustain.
  2. Visual Control: Visual controls such as cartoons, charts, light signals, Lane marking on floor, Safety instructions, Warning signs, Poka-Yoke instructions etc.can be displayed all over the workplace.
  3. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): All verbal instructions should be converted to SOPs to remove dependency on skilled personnel in achieving required product quality level, consistency, effectiveness and efficiency.
  4. Just in Time (JIT): It’s a Japanese manufacturing philosophy to make the right product in the right quantity at the right time. This almost always results in zero inventory and shortest possible cycle time.
  5. KANBAN System: In this, components are pulled by assembly or subsequent work centers and the containers are replenished with the right quantities by the previous work center, which reduces the inventory of unwanted components.
  6. Cellular Layout: In this improved manufacturing system, family wise component completion is aimed at within the smaller self-contained cell, which is a part of a big factory, as compared to operation wise completion in traditional functional layout.
  7. Value Stream Mapping: It covers all activities, both value added and non-value added, and helps in arriving at best layout of all resources required for making the product.
  8. Poka Yoke or Mistake Proofing: It is again a Japanese technique used to prevent errors occurring at their source of origin, and it finally leads to a ‘Zero Defect’ situation.
  9. Single Minutes Exchange of Dies or Quick Changeover (SMED): Applying ingenious methods, set up time is minimized and brought to less than ten minutes; thereby smaller batches as required by the customer can be taken up for manufacturing.
  10. TPM (Total Productive Maintenance): TPM involves operators, maintenance staff and management working together to improve the overall operation of any equipment. Operators, who first identify noisy or vibrating motors, oil or air leaks, can be trained to make simple repairs to prevent major and costly breakdowns.
  11. Kaizen Blitz or Rapid Improvement Process: It is an intense management programme, which results in an immediate change and bottom line improvement. Both management staff and workers are involved in this.
  12. Other Lean Techniques on need basis, etc.

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