Image Courtesy : cco: LEAN TEAMS USA


5S stands for

  • Sort (eliminate that which is not needed)
  • Set In Order (organize remaining items)
  • Shine (clean and inspect work area)
  • Standardize (write standards for above)
  • Sustain (regularly apply the standards)

Eliminates waste that results from a poorly organized work area (e.g. wasting time looking for a tool).

Bottleneck Analysis

The part of the manufacturing process which limits the overall throughput is identified and the performance of that part of the process is improved.

This Improves manufacturing output by strengthening the weakest link in the manufacturing process.

Continuous Flow

It is a process where work-in-process smoothly flows through production with minimal (or no) buffers between steps of the manufacturing process.

This eliminates many forms of waste (e.g. inventory, waiting time, and transport).

Just-In-Time (JIT)

This is based on the following principle:-
Pull parts through production based on customer demand instead of pushing parts through production based on projected demand.
JIT is highly effective in reducing inventory levels. Improves cash flow and reduces space requirements.

Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

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

This combines the collective talents of a company to create an engine for continually eliminating waste from manufacturing processes.

Kanban (Pull System)

Kanban is a method of regulating the flow of goods both within the factory and with outside suppliers and customers.  It is based on automatic replenishment through signal cards that indicate when more goods are needed.

This eliminates waste from inventory and overproduction. This can eliminate the need for physical inventories (instead relying on signal cards to indicate when more goods need to be ordered).

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

KPIs are metrics designed to track and encourage progress towards critical goals of the organization. Strongly promoted KPIs can be extremely powerful drivers of behaviour – so it is important to carefully select KPIs that will drive the desired behaviour.

KPIs are:

aligned with top-level strategic goals (thus helping to achieve those goals)

effective at exposing and quantifying waste (OEE is a good example)

readily influenced by plant floor employees (so they can drive results)

PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

PDCA is an iterative methodology for implementing improvements:

Plan (establish plan and expected results)

Do (implement plan)

Check (verify expected results achieved)

Act (reviews and assesses; do it again)

This applies a scientific approach to making improvements:


Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis is a problem solving methodology that focuses on resolving the underlying problem instead of applying quick fixes that only treat immediate symptoms of the problem. A common approach is to ask why five times – each time moving a step closer to discovering the true underlying problem.

This helps to ensure that a problem is truly eliminated by applying corrective action to the “root cause” of the problem.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total Productive Maintenance is a holistic approach to maintenance that focuses on proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the operational time of equipment. TPM blurs the distinction between maintenance and production by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.

This creates a shared responsibility for equipment that encourages greater involvement by plant floor workers. In the right environment this can be very effective in improving productivity (increasing up time, reducing cycle times, and eliminating defects).



The following book will be useful for a detailed understanding of Lean tools, especially in the context of the Indian production system.

“Made in India for Make in India”

By C Narasimhan

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