Lean Manufacturing & TPM


The core area of any manufacturing facility is the shop floor. Manufacturing is most often also the largest function within an organization. In some cases there are multiple processes required to manufacture a single product while in other cases just a few. In any case, to be considered as a successful manufacturing organization it is imperative that your operational process performance is strong and consistent. This ensures long-term profitability and future growth by fulfilling customer expectations.


One of the major challenges within manufacturing is to cope with the everyday and everywhere present process variation that impedes product flow and causes quality issues. For example, in production scheduling an inefficient planning process causes variation in production schedules, which puts extra stress on manufacturing. A complex facility layout disrupts flow and extends lead times. Not maintaining the machines results in variations in machine availability and performance. Quality issues arise from variations in material, workers and processes, and cause rework and defects.

As a result the constant firefighting within manufacturing results in increased efforts and costs to ensure customer demand is met with a high quality product delivered on time.

Focus Areas

Waste in manufacturing can be identified, classified and minimized as well as create tremendous savings potential. Lean principles, kaizen methods, and reengineering approaches can be applied to manufacturing to improve the flow of work through the value stream, to ensure the product is pulled from customer demand and to reduce process and quality issues. Reducing waste along the process will reduce lead time, increase the value add in the process and improve overall process efficiency and capability.

Areas of waste often identified in an innovation and product development environment:

  • Transportation & Handling: The unnecessary movement of products and people (e.g. because of amending express orders or sudden changes to the production schedule, shop floor layout isn’t optimal with long distances between machines and storage areas, batch processes cause extra handling of products…).
  • Inventory: Building inventory when the next process does not require it (e.g. due to unlevelled production, machine breakdown, planned maintenance, quality issues, just in case a big order comes in, great deal on a larger quantity of from the supplier.
  • Movement: Excess motion (e.g. due to poor workplace ergonomics with unnecessary reaching, twisting, bending and walking, repetitive work in strained position, walking between stations…).
  • Waiting: People waiting for material, systems and tools (e.g. due to line stoppages, batch processing leading to excessive work-in-process, waiting for quality approvals, waiting for data or for clarification or correction of work received from upstream processes, production schedule not clear, system downtime…).
  • Overproduction: Producing more than needed or faster (e.g. keep the machine running until the end of shift instead of starting machine tooling changeover, making more products than required to save setup time…).
  • Over-processing: Doing more than what the customer requires (e.g. lengthy cases notes when a simple explanation would be more helpful, overdesigning a product with features not wanted by the customer, having both electronic records and paper records, painting areas that never will be seen, double checking work…).
  • Defects: Work that contains errors (e.g. producing products not meeting specifications, mistakes made when reporting orders in the business system, ordering the wrong supplies…).

Lean Solutions

Improving processes availability, performance and quality and at the same time having products pulled through the value stream by customer demand is a good start to be more competitive in serving your customers.

We implement Lean Solutions in manufacturing in a similar way to other functions.  The solutions must fit the challenges.

Tangible Improvements

Lead Time
Total production lead time at a container packaging plant reduced by 72% due to Lean production program
TPM project reduced order production lead time by 24% due to paper machine unplanned down time reduction
Lean production project reduced defects at a food company bottling line by 33%
Joint Lean project between food manufacturer and packaging supplier led to discovery of real OEE and to OEE improvement of filling lines by over 70%
Rework at end of printing line reduced by 19% through implementation of Lean workshop findings and recommendations
Lean program at capital equipment manufacturer resulted in additional capacity allowance which increased output by 15%
TPM program at printing line increased machine productivity by 35%
Lean manufacturing workshop resulted in 22% of skilled workforce being freed up and diverted to other production lines where they were needed
Working capital reduced by 20% via work in process reduction in cylinder plant due to Lean manufacturing implementation

To learn more about Lean Manufacturing & TPM, contact Four Principles today.