5 Essential Lean Tools

7/28/21 10:30 AM

5 lean management toolsAs manufacturing facilities around the globe are seeking to cut costs and maintain a competitive advantage, many operations managers and facility leaders are finding themselves seeking to improve their processes. 

For some manufacturers, the right decision means moving away from traditional production methods towards a leaner operation. A lean operation is a flexible system that uses minimal resources and produces high-quality goods. In modern manufacturing, lean methodology and tools are some of the most common and essential concepts when looking to improve processes within production. 

These tools can help you identify waste within your facility and eliminate it. In lean manufacturing, waste is not only defined by the common concept of scraps and defects but also includes things like excess motion through the facility and wasted time. Lean takes a look at what does not add value to the end product and slowly chips away at the most prevalent waste within the facility to slowly but surely make your operations more efficient. 

Any customer-focused manufacturing business that wants to implement new technologies or alter processes to increase efficiency and decrease costs will benefit from implementing lean tools. Within this blog, we are going to discuss five lean tools that are an absolute must for your facility.


5 Lean Tools That are a Must for Your Operation

Waste identification and elimination are extremely beneficial to your operation, but where should you even begin? With these five lean tools, you can prepare a solid foundation that can easily begin your process towards waste elimination.

  • Kaizen – Kaizen is a concept that is commonly used in manufacturing and refers to the business activities gears towards the continuous improvement of the system. This process involves all employees within an organization, no matter their level so that everyone can give their input on how the system can be improved. While some suggestions may not necessarily lead to major improvements, smaller improvements can still have a big impact in the long run and lead to significant waste reduction. Kaizen can either occur quickly as issues are identified or it can be part of a broader strategic planning initiative that occurs over a short period of time.
  • Kanban ­– Kanban is a scheduling system used within lean manufacturing uses cards to track the status of production within a factory. This is used within pull production systems that are designed to eliminate inventory waste and overproduction, two common types of waste identified in lean operations. In these systems, as items begin to run low, a card is used to signal to upstream operations to produce and deliver a new shipment of those items. This prevents the production facility from overproduction as the inventory reorder will be just enough to replenish the amount that was consumed. 
  • Jidoka – Jidoka (also known as autonomation) was developed around the 19th century with the idea that equipment that is partially automated will stop whenever there is a defect. As a human worker will oversee the automated process, the worker will intervene as soon as an abnormality is detected in order to solve the problem. This allows for a further incentive to deal with rejects or defects, considering that the line will not move if you do not deal with them. The overall outcome of Jidoka is a reduction in and prevention of defects as systems are put in place to detect those and fix the root cause of the issue. 
  • Value Stream Mapping (VSM) – Value stream mapping is a commonly used tool within the lean methodology. This tool provides manufacturers with a method to visualize and analyze the current state of their production processes by illustrating the flow of materials through the production facility. Having a visual representation of production processes is helpful for identifying areas where bottlenecks occur or areas that can be improved. The optimization of the flow of materials through the system will further help eliminate waste and reduce operational costs. 
  • Total Quality Management (TQM) – Total quality management (TQM) is an organization-wide approach that strives to improve the quality of products by detecting and eliminating errors in manufacturing, improving supply chain management processes, and focusing on employee training. With this process, all individuals involved in the production process are help accountable for producing quality products and services. The overall goal of TQM is to improve internal processes so that there are less errors in production.

Lean systems are characterized by focusing on waste reduction and continuous improvement. These facilities also typically have minimal inventory and tend to produce in a just-in-time manner to reduce the amount of WIP items or finished goods that need to be stored. 


With PlanetTogether, we’re able to make strategic decisions that improve operations. We can proactively prepare for anticipated increases or slowdowns in demand.



A software that can greatly aid with lean concepts and eliminating waste within a facility is PlanetTogether’s Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software. A visual production planning and scheduling system is useful to identify areas of production that are in need of improvement and represent potential waste. This allows you to manipulate your overall production process and areas of production that are in need of enhancement and ultimately reduce waste within your overall operation.

Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software

Advanced Planning and Scheduling Softwares have become a must for modern-day manufacturing operations as customer demand for increased product assortment, fast delivery, and downward cost pressures become prevalent. These systems help planners save time while providing greater agility in updating ever-changing priorities, production schedules, and inventory plans. APS Systems can be quickly integrated with an ERP/MRP software to fill the gaps where these systems lack planning and scheduling flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency.

With PlanetTogether APS you can:

  • Create optimized schedules that balance production efficiency and delivery performance
  • Maximize throughput on bottleneck resources to increase revenue
  • Synchronize supply with demand to reduce inventories
  • Provide company-wide visibility to resource capacity
  • Enable scenario data-driven decision making

The implementation of an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software will take your manufacturing operations to the next level of production efficiency by taking advantage of the operational data you already possess in your ERP system. APS is a step in the right direction of efficiency and lean manufacturing production enhancement. Try out a free trial or demo!

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Topics: Lean Tools


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