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The 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles: How They Work in Industry 4.0

The five principles of lean manufacturing aren’t new, but the technology to succeed with them is rapidly advancing. Lean manufacturing is an absolute powerhouse methodology, driving companies to cut costs, reduce waste, and optimize production times.

In this article, we’ll explain what the five lean manufacturing principles are, and how they work with the latest manufacturing technologies to grow your business.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a popular method of manufacturing that aims to reduce costs, waste, and time through five simple principles: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

Closely related to the Just-in-Time (JIT) method of manufacturing, lean manufacturing shortens the entire production process by implementing basic organizational skills and, in the era of Industry 4.0, upgrading digital systems to streamline all business operations.

Lean manufacturing principles can be applied across departments, from human resources to accounting to inventory management strategies and production.

The names of the principles have Japanese equivalents because it was derived from Toyota’s 1960s-era TPS (Toyota Production System), also called “The Toyota Way”. Toyota also developed the idea of the seven wastes. The original purpose of these systems was to reduce the waste of extra inventory and raw materials and automate quality control. Today, these principles are extended as far as marketing and customer service.

5S Framework: 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles

The 5S framework is another name for the five principles of lean manufacturing. Here is each principle and what it means for your business.

1. Sort (Seiri)

The first principle of lean manufacturing is Sort. Sorting involves determining what is necessary from what isn’t. The goal of Sort is to keep an organized workspace, whether that’s in the finance office or on the shop floor, by keeping only the most essential tools, materials, equipment, and staff in the work environment, including meeting rooms.

By removing clutter, your team has easier access to what they need. They don’t have to waste time looking for the right tools and they have fewer distractions.

2. Set in Order (Seiton)

The second lean manufacturing principle is Set in Order. This means arranging the necessary items systematically so they are available at each step in your workflow. The goal here is to optimize the layout of tools, equipment, and materials to improve productivity and reduce waste.

Think of Set in Order like an optimized assembly line, where each staff member, machine, or tool is in its station, ready to perform a specific task.

3. Shine (Seiso)

The third lean manufacturing principle is Shine. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and that’s a crucial belief in both life and manufacturing.

Shine means to regularly clean and maintain your workspace, including equipment, machinery, work areas, products, and even staff (we’re looking at you, life sciences!). A clean manufacturing floor is a safe manufacturing floor.

We recommend setting company standards in addition to industry standards when it comes to cleanliness. Each employee should understand what your expectations are when it comes to maintenance. Well cleaned and maintained machines, for example, will perform better and last longer, saving costs on technical maintenance and equipment replacement.

4. Standardize (Seiketsu)

The fourth principle of lean manufacturing is Stardardize. When was the last time your team reviewed your company standards? If it was when you launched, it’s time to revisit your processes.

Standardization means creating standardized processes and procedures for each department and role. The goal is to maintain consistency and efficiency across operations and ensure you have backup plans in case of unexpected disruptions.

Establish clear guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and visual controls to reduce variability, errors, and waste. Be sure to review your SOPs annually. Are they being practiced? Could they be improved? The data collected from all departments with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system will be crucial in optimizing standards and workflows.

5. Sustain (Shitsuke)

The final principle of lean manufacturing is Sustain. This principle focuses on sustaining the improvements made through the previous four principles.

You can practice Systain by developing a culture of continuous improvement, discipline, and accountability among employees, ensuring that lean practices are implemented every day.

How ERP Systems Take Lean Manufacturing to the Next Level

At Godlan, we’re huge fans of lean manufacturing. The principles of lean manufacturing align closely with the goals of ERP systems: to grow the business by increasing productivity and reducing waste.

Here’s how ERP systems enhance lean manufacturing.

Inventory Management

Inventory management modules within ERP systems optimize inventory levels by collecting and analyzing historical data and creating accurate demand forecasts. Inventory management systems also automate menial tasks, reducing human error.

The result is more accurate inventory data and a clearer outlook on future demand. This helps reduce excess inventory and ensures materials are available when your team needs them.

Integrated Data Management

ERP systems integrate data across all departments, including production, inventory, warehouse, sales, and accounting, into a single source of truth. Not only will your team be operating based on the same data, but they can easily collaborate to reduce costs and identify areas of waste and inefficiencies. 

Predictive Maintenance

With the right ERP system and IIoT devices, you can cancel all your future scheduled maintenance. Predictive maintenance uses smart sensors to identify issues with machinery before they become a problem.

Instead of having a technician inspect machines that have no issues, or machines that should have been inspected much sooner, your digital systems can tell you exactly when they need to be serviced.

Data Analytics

ERP systems offer a wide array of analytical tools that generate reports for key performance indicators (KPIs) and other performance metrics. Use these advanced data analytics to monitor cycle times, lead times, throughput, and identify areas for improvement.

Quality Control

ERP systems often include modules for quality management. Digital quality control uses smart devices and sensors to collect data so your team can track and manage quality metrics throughout the production process. This aligns with lean manufacturing principles as it helps you identify defects early, reduce rework, and improve product quality overall.

Supply Chain Optimization

ERP systems can track suppliers, assist with material management, and orders automatically. They offer enhanced visibility into the supply chain from ordering to receiving. This helps your business improve relationships with vendors, reduce lead times, and ensure you have a smooth and accurate flow of materials.

Want a Custom Review of Your Lean Manufacturing Principles in Action?

At Godlan, we have over 35 years of experience helping our manufacturing clients lean down by implementing cutting-edge technology. If you’re interested in reducing waste, streamlining workflows, and boosting your bottom line, we’re here to help. Contact our experts to learn how we can help you grow today.

Discover what is possible for your enterprise.

Reach out to our team today to begin a conversation to discuss your specific needs, infrastructure, and growth opportunities.

Godlan is a name you can trust.

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