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5 Lean Techniques That Will Improve Your Manufacturing Processes

Updated February 19, 2021


Interested in lean techniques that can have a beneficial impact on your manufacturing processes?

With a number of great lean strategies out there, how do you find the one that will have the most impact in your business?

A good approach is to review the lean techniques that are currently proving themselves where it matters most - on the shop room floor.

Below we share a brief description of 5 effective lean strategies along with an explanation of how each tool can improve your manufacturing processes.

Keep in mind, although lean manufacturing and specific lean techniques can have a dramatic impact on your business by itself, you can often multiply the benefits by combining them.

1. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) 

Kaizen is a strategy where employees work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements in the manufacturing process.

This strategy  is effective because it focuses the collective talents and resources of your company on creating a culture continually on the lookout for ways to eliminate waste from manufacturing processes.

Learn more in our complete guide on Kaizen in manufacturing.

Kaizen Means "Good Change" or Continuous Improvement

2. 5S (The 5S System)

The 5S approach emphasizes the organization of your work area. This strategy involves SORTING - eliminating that which is not needed. Once that’s done, the remaining items are SET IN ORDER. Then, you create a work area that SHINES. After that, you STANDARDIZE - writing standards for each of the above elements of the process. Finally, you SUSTAIN the strategy by regularly applying the standards.

The 5S approach eliminates waste resulting from a poorly organized work area.

The 5S Lean Manufacturing Technique

3. Six Big Losses

Productivity inefficiency in virtually any manufacturing category can usually be traced back to 6 universally occurring loss categories.

The Six Big Losses include:

  • Breakdowns
  • Setup and Adjustments
  • Small Stops
  • Reduced Speed
  • Startup Rejects
  • Production Rejects.

The Six Big Losses approach gives you a guideline for attacking the most common causes of waste in manufacturing processes.

Learn how Morgan Olson, a leading walk-in van body manufacturer used MachineMetrics to identify bottlenecks and reduce waste by 50%. Read the full story.

4. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

OEE provides a framework for measuring productivity loss for a given manufacturing process. Three categories of loss are tracked: down time, slow cycles and rejects.

This lean technique establishes a baseline and gives you a means to track progress in eliminating waste from a manufacturing process. Achieving 85% OEE is a reasonable target to shoot for in the beginning. Once that’s achieved, you can focus on additional ways to elevate your results.

Learn more in our complete guide on OEE.

5.Machine Monitoring

Machine monitoring dovetails nicely with OEE. Machine monitoring software automatically collects data from machines and uses this data to provide real-time visualizations and notifications, as well as historical analytics to help operators and management make faster and more informed decisions.

In addition to providing you with at-a-glance performance on a machine-by-machine basis, machine monitoring gives you a window onto your entire manufacturing process.

If you are utilizing secure, cloud-based manufacturing process software, it also puts information at your fingertips anywhere there’s an internet connection.

Machine downtime, quality issues, and poor performance can be categorized automatically or by the operator.

The key to creating a truly lean manufacturing process is being open-minded. You may find through experimentation that a combination of lean techniques deliver the optimal result.


MachineMetrics can serve as the backbone to any lean manufacturing program by providing real-time manufacturing analytics and allowing you to track the positive impact your lean implementations have on your productivity and efficiency over time. 

Learn more about our machine monitoring solution, or book a demo today

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