What is Lean Manufacturing?

A core focus of lean manufacturing is to improve efficiency and productivity by eliminating waste. Furthermore, it takes the 5 Ms of lean manufacturing and uses it simultaneously to create the best possible outcome for your manufacturing operations. Management can maintain and improve their workflows by consistently examining the 5 Ms.

What are the 5 Ms of Lean Manufacturing?

1. Manpower

You need people to perform specific duties and tasks required to produce a product. But, operations can be directly impacted if your people aren’t satisfied. 

Engage your employees in continuous improvement. In other words, your employees should always be motivated to seek feedback and create opportunities for improving processes. To make sure of this, management should recognize and reward those who are contributing the most and who are creating the most positive change.

2. Machines

Each manager should understand and have working knowledge of each piece of equipment and tool within their workplace. Additionally, workplace equipment should operate properly and safely. This means that management is responsible for checking to see if equipment is being regularly maintained and if it is in good condition. 

Another important aspect of this ‘M’ is technology. A lean manufacturing software supports continuous improvement. In essence, the software allows employees to submit suggestions and ideas to help improve internal business processes. Managers can then collaborate with their employees to create and implement solutions.

3. Materials

Man handling manufacturing materials (the fourth M of the five Ms of lean manufacturing)

An important element of Kaizen is the flow of materials. For that reason, a just-in-time model helps to remove excess inventory as it helps direct the flow of materials. So, only necessary and relevant materials should be in the work area. 

4. Methods

Standardized methods help managers ensure that processes and employees are performing accordingly. For instance, employees should fill out standard work forms in each place that they are working. They should also include any relevant diagrams, charts or images to support the form. 

5. Measurements

It is important for management to determine and list key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure. An example would be to display schedules and targets in an area where everyone can track improvement progress. Essentially, KPIs helps managers to identify smooth running processes and process breakdowns.