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What is lean manufacturing?

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Quick Answer

Lean manufacturing is a business model that focuses on the elimination of waste. This can include focusing on how to deliver the same-quality product on time and at a lower cost.

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The practice of lean manufacturing looks at what processes can be modified to more efficiently meet the demand of customers. It involves removing any steps in the process that do not add to the overall value of the end product. This could include decreasing lag time between steps in the production process, changing the roles of workers to use their skills more efficiently or decreasing the number of times that a product is worked on or reviewed.

Lean manufacturing can also involve decreasing the amount of products that are produced at one time to get production more in line with customer demand. Companies may also lower supply levels or inventory to reduce overall costs. Other things that may be examined in lean manufacturing include how efficiently products or materials are moved, how much time is spent on fixing errors, and how well employees change between tasks.

There are three main stages to the lean manufacturing process: identifying waste, analyzing the waste and finding the root cause, and solving the root cause. These stages are continually repeated during production.

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