Lean Manufacturing
Gonçalo Fortes avatar
Written by Gonçalo Fortes
Updated over a week ago


A research conducted by the Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) revealed that approximately 60% of the activities devoted to production are extraneous (a good way to say it’s a waste). Why are people wasteful in the manufacturing process? Is it intentional? Can it be avoided? Perhaps, it will help if we consider what lean manufacturing is and how it relates to the issue of eliminating waste.

Introduction to Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing involves using techniques that will produce quality goods or services while cutting down on the cost of production. A more simple way to say this is that lean manufacturing encompasses production methods which bring about thriftiness without compromising the business productivity. 

The three Tenets of Lean Manufacturing

  1. Reduction in cost of production.

  2. Improvement in quality.

  3. Reduction in production time or better still, increase in efficiency.

What is Classified as Waste in Lean Manufacturing? 

Every activity that does not add value when seen from the customer’s perspective is a waste. In many places, waste in Lean is called “muda’’ (a Japanese word which translates to “waste.” Remember that Lean Manufacturing originated from Toyota, a Japanese manufacturing company).

There are originally seven mudas in Lean Manufacturing, but recently the number has increased to cater for new business practices. For the purpose of this article, we will stick to only the seven original mudas.

The Seven Mudas in Lean Manufacturing are:


This is when production is not taking place, due to distances in production plants or shifting by handlers of the production process.

Over Processing

When the tools used in production are inferior or there is poor product design creativity it leads to over processing.

Unnecessary Inventory

Unnecessary inventory reduces production time and consumes production space. This, according to lean manufacturing principles, is a muda.

Unnecessary Motion

Every motion of personnel or equipment that does not increase productivity is a muda.


If at the end of production there are defects in the products, the time spent in inspecting or fixing defects directly impacts on the capacity of production.


When there is excessive movement in a production process it hampers the productivity. The products are prone to damage, logistics proves difficult, and perishable goods can spoil.

Over Production

Production should be based on the consumer’s demand and not on a wrong estimate or wishful thinking.


Lean manufacturing is the way to go for any business organization looking to increase productivity and efficiency. It provides decreased cycle time, less inventory, new ways of improvement, etc. Also, it finds application in other sectors apart from manufacturing like healthcare, software computing, energy sector, etc.

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