Roadmap for Lean Manufacturing
Nine Start-Up Steps
Starting and sustaining a lean effort requires planning and a
stepwise implementation. The following nine start-up steps form a
simple yet effective structure for introducing lean principles and
practices to an organization.
1. Start with the Leadership Team
- The Management Team must provide leadership by linking the lean
initiative to the business strategy and communicating global
2. Include Lean Champions in the Planning
- Lean champions should be individuals well-versed in lean tools and
techniques and have the authority within the organization to help
lean teams overcome organizational obstacles.
3. Establish Working Subcommittees
- Lean working subcommittees charged with coordinating such issues as
Communications, Training, Project Support, and Best Practices are
instrumental in keeping lean teams focused and on track.
4. Launch Communications
- Regularly scheduled short lean communication sessions should be used
to convey the why, what, who, and how of the lean initiative. In
addition, provide on-going information in several formats such as
your intranet, postings, and newsletters.
5. Provide Training
- Developing a training plan to support a lean initiative includes
determining who in the organization needs to know what, how the
training will be delivered, how facilitators can turn training into
true learning, and where to find relevant resources.
6. Use a Pilot to Start
- Pick a well-defined value stream for your pilot workflow. Layout and
create a work cell. Lessons learned from laying out and creating a
work cell in the pilot will be used when developing a full roll-out
7. Publicize and Leverage Successes
- Publicize the tangible value each improved workflow and layout
brings to the organization; encourage other workflows to use and
improve on the lessons learned.
8. Develop the Roll-Out Plan
- After completing the initial pilot and before involving the rest of
the organization in the lean effort, step back and evaluate how the
pilot went. Incorporate adjustments to the roll out plan.
9. Continually Evaluate and Adjust
- As with any process, as lessons are learned, make improvements to
the lean effort. Modify and strengthen the infrastructure; select
new tools to add to the "arsenal," develop improved methods to
measure and communicate progress; and challenge cells to constantly
get better, faster, and more productive.
Lean Implementation Roadmap
As you work through the nine start-up steps, revisit the eight
elements of lean:
- 1. Streamline the Value Stream (VSM, Workflows, Layouts)
- 2. Workplace Organization (The 5S's)
- 3. Predictability & Consistency (DFA/DFM, QFD, MSA, GR&Rs, FMEAs,
Mistake-Proofing, Problem-Solving, SPC, …)
- 4. Set-up Reduction (SMED)
- 5. TPM (Equipment Reliability)
- 6. Visual Displays & Controls (including Andons, Kanbans, Color
- 7. Support Processes (Purchasing, Scheduling, Accounting,
- 8. Continuous Improvement (PDCA, COQ, DOE, …)
All eight elements of lean are needed since organizations cannot be
truly lean without predictable and consistent products, reduced
set-up times, reliable equipment, and changes to scheduling,
purchasing and accounting practices to support the lean effort. When
adding lean elements to the effort, incorporate them on an as needed
basis, not a linear fashion.
People issues should always be addressed first.
- A collaborative, team-oriented, customer-focused environment must be
Value stream mapping, workflows and layout usually follow addressing
- Document a current state map.
- Identify waste in the value steam map.
- Develop a future state map to show what could be.
- Use the future state map as the target for an improved workflow.
- The improved workflow is converted into a lean layout.
The third step in lean implementation is usually introduction of the
After addressing people issues, value stream mapping, and the 5S's,
what's next? Unfortunately, there is no one right answer; it's
different for every organization.