There are a number of standard Lean Manufacturing Definitions……..
“Lean is a Business philosophy that continuously shortens the time between customer order and shipment by eliminating anything that increases the cost of production and time of delivery to customers.” – Eaton Corporation
“Lean Manufacturing is an operational strategy oriented toward achieving the shortest possible cycle time by eliminating waste.” – Rockford Consulting
“the philosophy of continually reducing waste in all areas and in all forms; an English phrase coined to summarize Japanese manufacturing techniques (specifically, the Toyota Production System).” – Beyond Lean
“A passionate belief that there’s always a simpler, better way…continuous drive to identify and eliminate WASTE”
Pretty much, wherever you go in your search for the ideal Lean Manufacturing Definition, there are commonalities. The following pointers tend to spring up:
Lean must be strategic: It has to be implemented as part of a business strategy, and therefore deployed in the organisation using a structured approach. This advance takes time, as it must address the hardest part: cultural change.
Through a relentless pursuit to eliminate waste, operations can be conducted more efficiently and at less cost. There are real productivity gains to be made, and some typical productivity improvements can be increased by 40%+. An efficient process means an agile one – which can quickly adapt to customer demands.
If you eliminate NVA in your business processes and end to end value streams, you will shorten Leadtimes. That means, the time it takes to produce a product or service will shorten.
By shortening leadtimes and removing waste, your operations will be more efficient, therefore your margins should increase and your operation becomes a great deal more competitive than before.
In light of the above areas of thought, the definition i prefer to use encompasses the fact that when deploying Lean you are in pursuit of waste elimination, cultural change to enforce an improving culture and more output and throughput with less resource, and so the definition i use is:
“A Strategy, which strives to embed a culture of continuous improvement, whereby everyone seeks to identify and eliminate waste, enabling the business to deliver customer expectations at minimal cost and lead time.”