Lean Production

Also known as: Lean production, lean manufacturing

Lean Production refers to a production organization in which production factors such as planning, organization, personnel, operating resources and materials are used efficiently and economically.

Definition / explanation

The term lean production was introduced in 1992 by James P. Womack, Daniel Roos and Daniel T. Jones in an economic discussion. With the name they meant the systematized production organization of Japanese automobile manufacturers, which was opposed to the buffered production in Europe and in the USA.

The socio-technical system is intended to eliminate waste in a company and at the same time reduce internal, customer-side and supplier-side fluctuations.

Lean Production = systematic production organization

Goals of lean production

The main goal of lean production is not only to optimize the productivity of the production factors, but also to increase the quality of the products and the flexibility of the production apparatus.

Four characteristics distinguish the concept of lean production:

A more effective use of the factors of production improves productivity. The optimization of the manufacturing process, a rationalization of the administration and other areas, shorter lead times and the avoidance of underutilized personnel capacities help to achieve this goal.

Um Lagerbestände abzubauen, werden Rohstoffe und Zwischenprodukte nur im benötigten Umfang gelagert und schnell weiterverwendet. Um diese Form von Warehousing zu erhalten, wird auf Just-intime-Lieferungen zurückgegriffen.

Optimization of the manufacturing process and quality control, closer cooperation with suppliers and professional handling of product defects and rejects improve the quality of the products.

An important feature of lean production is the flexibility in the areas of product variants, production factors and production quantities. It is easier to respond to fluctuations in your own production, on the market or with suppliers.

Principles of Lean Production

Lean production is about principles that achieve more effective results through optimal interaction with one another:

  • Merging responsibility and competence
  • Reduction of errors and waste
  • Working in the networks
  • Strive for continuous improvement
  • Synchronization of processes
  • Restructuring if necessary

Limits and disadvantages

The concept of lean manufacturing focuses too much on cost relief and manufacturing efficiency. By neglecting the sales side, manufacturers are heavily dependent on a stable market. Thanks to their flexibility, manufacturers can react quickly and efficiently to small fluctuations in the market. However, the resources for bad times are lacking for major disturbances in the market.

So kann das Konzept der Lean Production unter anderem nicht auf einen unerwarteten Umsatzrückgang, größere Produktions- oder Distributionsstörungen antworten. Zudem führt das Just-in-time principle dazu, dass die Zulieferer öfters kleinere Mengen transportieren müssen. Dadurch steigt deren Transportzahl, während die Auslastung ihrer Transporte sinkt. Diese daraus entstehenden Emissionen und Umweltbeeinträchtigung werden in der Lean Production nicht berücksichtigt.


  • Lean Production means the effective and economical use of production factors
  • this leads to cost savings, increases product quality and flexibility in the company
  • In lean production there are principles that work together to achieve more effective results
  • Sales policy aspects are not taken into account
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