Five major lean tools

What are Lean tools? Lean tools are simply tools that are used to enhance the efficacy and efficiency of the production process during lean manufacturing. The goal of using lean tools is to improve production at a faster and more efficient manner, to reduce effort, and to utilize resources to the maximum while cutting down on waste.

Lean tools vary in their application in various fields.

Lean tools are effective at improving the rate of production and here are five major lean tools

• 5S
• Kanban
• Kaizen
• Focus PDCA
• Andon

The focus of the 5S is to make is to improve the work flow process by utilizing a systematic route to approach organizational cleanliness in the work place. As the name implies(5S), it takes into account five basic guidelines which are aimed at enhancing efficiency in the work flow. The five S’ are enlisted as such:
• Sort
• Set
• Shine
• Standardize
• Sustain

These five S’(5S) are then utilized practically in the work place by the movement and removal of items from the work place that are not useful or needed. This is known as Sorting. Following this is Setting, this is done by touching up work spaces in a unique way so as to promote efficiency. Thirdly, Shine, this process is carried out by cleaning up and making the work place neat. To Standardize is to make sure improvements are documented properly so they can then be made as a standard to improve efficiency. The last of the five S’ is Sustain, the company should then maintain each step to ensure continuous progress.

Kanban originally developed from Toyota in the 1950s is a visual lean tool meant to use visual aid to monitor as well as trace the progress of the work process as well as identify flaws inherent within. This lean tool is flexible and ensures that workers are not overworked. This is because it reduces the work in progress and puts a limit on the amount of tasks that can be undertaken.

Kanban places a priority on important tasks. That is, only important tasks are undertaken first before the less important ones are handled. One of the major benefits of Kanban is that employees can manage and organize their stocks and inventory with ease.

The main focus of the Kaizen lean tool is to continuously aid development, increase and improvement in safety processes, production, quality etc. This lean tool like Kaizen also originated from Japan. It was developed after the second World War.

Kaizen focuses on every field in a company to see how improvements can be made, it can start from the very bottom, for instance the Janitors, then continue to the various employees and finally stop at the upper echelons of the organization.

This particular tool has a no nonsense approach towards the business processes. It is focused, logical and more methodological with its aim of improving business processes. Its approach towards increase of efficiency is to propagate a structure with guidelines on how the work should be carried out.

This is a system which relies upon visual feedback that traces the status of the work flow and gives assistance to the workers by sending out alerts when help is required. It major advantage is that it enhances communication and problems can be communicated as soon as they occur.

What’s next?
To learn the Kanban 101 at team-level, enroll in the IBQMI® Approved Kanban Professional.
If you want to apply Kanban to any environment at an advanced coach level, you should enroll in the Certified Kanban Coach®.

To master even big projects, enroll in the Certified Lean Project Manager®

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