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Lean Manufacturing is a term that has been around now for many years, originally spawned within the MIT study that led to the book “The Machine That Changed the World ” by Womack and Jones in 1990. However if you search through the many publications and web sites looking for a lean manufacturing definition you will find a myriad of differing definitions for Lean, partly because lean is a continuously developing philosophy and because it’s application is different for each and every company.

Lean has had a number of names over the years, developed primarily from the Toyota Production System (TPS) it has been called World Class Manufacturing (WCM), Continuous Flow Manufacturing, and Stock-less production to name a few. Today you will even here Lean Sigma and Agile Manufacturing.

Although developed mainly within manufacturing, Lean is equally applicable within your office based administrative functions or within service industries such as healthcare where it is seeing a huge amount of attention.

The term Lean in my mind is an unfortunate one, in many people it brings to mind not a fit capable organization but a thin, anorexic one that will break when pressure is applied. A fear that has been well founded when piecemeal and ill planned applications of Lean have failed.

Benefits of lean manufacturing – short/long term benefits and challenges explained

Before investing in any major project, you need to compare the potential benefits to the costs. Lean manufacturing is no different. You need to consider whether or not the benefits of lean will outweigh the costs incurred to implement. And understanding these differences will help you determine whether or not lean is right for your company.

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