What is Lean Manufacturing?

Today, thanks to rapidly developing technology, innovations are emerging every day. While these innovations make information and products more easily accessible in our social life, they change the way we do business in our business life. This bidirectional change also changes customer expectations. Therefore, it is very important for businesses to increase their competitiveness regardless of the sector they are in. Competitiveness can be achieved through continuous development and change.

Lean manufacturing has principles that encourage businesses to continuously improve by eliminating waste in business processes. By applying these principles to business processes, businesses can increase their competitiveness and keep up with innovations. So how? The answers are in our blog post!

Definition of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is an approach that focuses on reducing waste and increasing efficiency in the production process. It calls everything that does not add value to the product or service as waste and focuses on eliminating waste. Lean is based on the idea of improving the overall quality of the product, increasing customer satisfaction, minimizing errors, and improving production speed and cost. Lean emphasizes streamlining processes, eliminating waste, and improving the flow of materials and information. To do this, it shapes materials and information in line with customer expectations, focuses on creating activities that create added value, and eliminates steps that do not create value.

What is the Purpose of Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing aims to shorten delivery times, reduce operating costs and improve product quality by increasing production speed. Lean manufacturing wants to eliminate waste in processes to achieve its goal. According to this approach, processes, activities, products or services that require time, cost and skill but do not add value to the customer are waste. In order to eliminate inefficiencies such as excess stock, underutilized talent and cost, it is necessary to produce zero-defect, small stocks, just-in-time production.

5 Basic Principles of Lean Manufacturing

There are 5 basic principles of lean manufacturing processes. We can list these principles as value, value stream, flow, pull and excellence.

Customer Value

The first principle of Lean Process Management is to determine value from the customer’s perspective. According to lean manufacturing, anything that the customer does not value is waste. The purpose of this principle is to understand what the customer wants and needs and focus on creating value for them. Businesses can use market analysis, market trends and customer insights to determine customer value.

Value Stream

The second principle of Lean Process Management is to analyze the value stream. This involves understanding a process and identifying the steps and activities necessary to create the value the customer is looking for. It is necessary to analyze the entire life cycle of a process, from raw materials to the final product, to identify waste and areas that need improvement.

For example, in this stage, all stages of the product or service are examined. All information and material movements within the value stream are analyzed. During the production process, processing time and waiting time are examined. The amount of inventory and stock level created during the production process are visualized.


The third principle is to create continuous flow. This includes ensuring that the process is efficient and activities are carried out in the correct order. The flow principle ensures that processes flow without interruption and production is carried out with minimum delay.


The pull system focuses on producing only when there is a customer demand. In this way, only necessary activities are carried out and waste of resources is prevented.

The pull system may also be called the “just-in-time inventory system.” This system is the exact opposite of the push system used in the production process. In the push system, production is done on a predictive basis, sometimes resulting in over or under-production. This results in increased storage costs and customer dissatisfaction. The pull system reduces costs and increases customer satisfaction by starting production only when there is demand.


The final principle of lean thinking is the pursuit of perfection. This requires constant improvement and striving for excellence. To find perfection, processes must be constantly improved and waste must be constantly eliminated.

8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

Eliminating waste is not just about reducing costs. It is also about efficiency and customer value. The waste is divided into eight different types to make it easier to identify.

  1. Inventory: Holding excess inventory increases storage costs and reduces the value in stock.
  2. Waiting: Unnecessary waiting times during or between operations cause processes to be inefficient. This creates insertion waste.
  3. Overproduction: Producing more products or services than demand and need causes unnecessary stock to accumulate.
  4. Transportation: Unnecessary transportation of products, materials or equipment wastes time and resources.
  5. Processing: Excessive processing waste occurs when features, materials or extra effort are added to products that do not add value to the customer and that the customer does not need.
  6. Movement: Unnecessary movement of people reduces the efficiency of processes.
  7. Defects: When products are produced with defects, they require subsequent correction. Existing defects also lead to additional costs and dissatisfied customers.
  8. Labor Potential: Not utilizing the knowledge, skills and potential of workers is a form of waste. This means not maximizing the contribution of workers.

Types of Waste in Lean Manufacturing

In lean manufacturing, such wastes are divided into three types: Muda – Mura – Muri, called 3M:


Muda is any business that does not add value to the customer and wastes resources. If a process does not add value or does not support a process that adds value, that process is wasteful and should be eliminated.


Fluctuations caused by the addition of new services or changes in customer demand cause imbalance or waste of resources.


Exceeding the capacity of the workforce and equipment and requiring them to operate at a higher speed or intensity requires more effort and time than expected in terms of equipment design and workforce management. This causes waste to occur.

What are the Benefits of Lean Manufacturing?

There are many benefits to be gained by most companies that successfully implement the lean manufacturing approach, such as reducing waste, preventing profitability, and increasing efficiency.

  • The quality of products and services increases.
  • Efficiency increases and costs decrease.
  • It facilitates the transition of production from one product to another, enabling better response to customer demand.
  • Eliminates production waste.
  • It enables employees to take ownership of their work and take responsibility. This positively affects employee engagement.
  • Increases customer satisfaction as it provides customer-oriented production.
  • Reduces stock quantity.
  • Promotes a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Reduces defects and improves quality.
  • Shortens delivery times.

What are Lean Manufacturing Application Tools?

The most basic tools that businesses can use when implementing lean manufacturing are as follows:

  • 5S Methodology: 5S is a method that emphasizes order and cleanliness. It aims to create an efficient, effective and safe working environment by organizing work areas and preventing loss of labor and time.
  • Kaizen: Focuses on making small, incremental improvements in processes, products or services.
  • Just in Time Production (JIT): It is the production of the required products in the right quantity and quality at the right time in accordance with customer demands.
  • Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): It is a holistic approach that includes planned maintenance and operator participation to ensure that equipment operates at maximum efficiency.
  • Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED): It is a technique that performs mold change in production machines quickly, efficiently and with minimum loss of time.
  • Poka–Yoke: Refers to simple and effective error prevention techniques designed to prevent or detect defective products.
  • Jidoka: It is a production approach that has the ability to detect and stop errors through human intervention as well as automation.
  • A3 Problem Solving: A structured problem-solving process used to identify, analyze, resolve problems and share results.
  • Value Stream Mapping (VSM): A lean manufacturing tool used to visualize the processes of a product or service, reducing waste and highlighting steps that add value.
  • Kanban: It is a visual system used to manage the production flow, organize the flow of materials and jobs, and optimize the workload.
  • Hoshin Kanri: It is a management process used to set, distribute, monitor and improve strategic objectives.
  • Fishbone Diagram: A tool that visually analyzes possible causes to solve a problem or uncertainty.
  • Heijunka: Focuses on balancing or leveling production. This is done to ensure an uninterrupted production flow and minimize unnecessary facility occupation and interruptions.

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