Difference between your value and lean manufacturing value of a product

One of the features of lean manufacturing is the customer focus. It depends on the market forces to pull the production out of the factory. Like this lean manufacturing defines value of a product with the customer point of view.

What your customer has to do for the inefficiencies you have. Why they should pay for all the problems you have. No I am not talking about customer buying a defective product. But still they pay for your defects. How? Because these inefficiencies add to your cost. This will increase price of the products. Ultimately who is paying for the inefficiencies you had in your system. Your customer, right.

If some manufacturer say “My products are costly because they are of high quality” what your reaction will be? You might say “it is better to buy a product, which is high in quality for some extra cost”. But for me this is a joke. This manufacturer is not a high quality manufacturer, but an average manufacturer. He picks high quality products from the rest. Then he will have low quality products which are of low value. To overcome this cost of low quality, he has to charge you more for the god quality product. This is why the price goes up. Isn’t it funny, you are paying for the low quality products manufacturer produce in an indirect way.

This is why best manufacturers around the world say “quality is not costly”. In fact according to the lean manufacturing concepts it cheaper to produce high quality products.

Lean manufacturing cyclic concepts

Lean manufacturing is not a do and forget kind of system. It is a cyclic and continuous process. Lean manufacturing depends on small and continuous improvement techniques, which are known as kaizen.

Lean manufacturing principles therefore calls for the continuous attention to the system all the time. Failing to do so, will make the system to perform badly and will ultimately to stop. In fact most of the success of the lean manufacturing comes form this thinking. Successful lean manufacturers are the people who have taken small steps continuously toward their success. This makes change manageable. People will not be de motivated and they are less likely to be resistant to small changes rather than big changes. Also this gives the ability to use the brains of the people in more productive ways. People will start enjoying the changes since there are actively participating in making these changes. Risk of failing will be minimal. If something goes wrong the system can recover very fast since the changes are in small scale.

It is very nice to have a big boom in the process. But even then, it has to be managed and continuo to get the best out of it. Although lean manufacturing is not against big innovations, lean manufacturing concepts are more geared towards small continuous sustainable changes and innovations.

Work In Progress – Is it a friend or an enemy

WIP was the former friend of the manufacturers. But no more. Work In Progress is now treated as an enemy by most of the manufacturers. Lean manufacturing concepts are based on JIT, where no stocks are maintained.

More than this, lean manufacturing treats work in progress as a reflection of wastes that system has. Any imperfection in the system will create a requirement for WIP. For an example, if there is a machine breakdown there will be overproduction and ultimately will increase the WIP.

Importantly, WIP will give us a visual signal, if there is a problem. Simply if you see a high working progress near a workplace, you can understand there is a problem there. That is how to use WIP positively.

Lean manufacturing Vs Traditional manufacturing

Many people think that lean manufacturing as using a set of tools to fine-tune the existing manufacturing system. They think lean manufacturing as an extension of the current manufacturing systems they have. But it is not true. Lean manufacturing is conceptually different from the traditional manufacturing. Therefore it is very important to understand the conceptual differences between traditional manufacturing and lean manufacturing.


For an example traditional manufacturing depends on Work In Progress. On the other hand lean manufacturing treats WIP as a waste itself and as a reflection of the imperfection the system has. I believe this example itself shows the fundamental difference between the traditional and lean manufacturing systems.


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