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There is a common misconception that lean manufacturing is for larger organizations that have a complex manufacturing process. In reality, lean manufacturing can also work for smaller businesses. Companies of all sizes face the same challenges with growing their products or services. You can easily apply the lean principles to a small manufacturing business to improve your daily operations.


When implemented correctly, SMEs can benefit from lean manufacturing in the following ways:

  • Increased profits.
  • Decreased costs.
  • Efficiency gains.
  • Long-term growth.


Any small manufacturing enterprise could increase its bottom line and business outlook with these measurable benefits. Let’s take a deeper dive:


What Are Lean Principles?

Lean principles came out of the world of manufacturing, but they have long since gone mainstream. There are five key components to the lean principles:

Define Value

Understanding the value you give to your customers should determine how you should be pricing your manufacturing product.

Map Value Stream

You take the customer’s value and use it to identify what contributes to the values. If you’re doing something that doesn’t add value to the customer, it’s considered wasteful.

Create a Flow

Allow your business operations to run smoothly by removing waste and letting your business run without any delays.

Establish Pull

Develop just-in-time delivery chains where your product is always ready on the delivery date.

Pursue Perfection

Everyone in your business should be working towards the idea of perfection and producing products that meet your customer’s needs.


Where Should SMEs Focus?

Lean principles you can apply to your small business focus on working toward the future. They involve defining priorities and brainstorming ideas across your team about the best ways to solve problems.


You can use lean principles to reduce waste and promote continuous improvement in your business. This principle could be as simple as making sure you’re recycling your paper to controlling your inventory to prevent dead stock.


You can better focus and pay attention to your business processes and daily operations with lean principles. Lean allows you to critically analyze how you run your business and question whether there are more effective workflow methods you could be using. Lean principles encourage cross-departmental communication to improve upon general business operations.


How You Can Apply Lean Principles to Your Business

Lean calls for a culture focused on continuous improvement. It’s recommended that you spend 10 per cent of your time focusing on ways to improve your business. Your continuous improvement could focus on building your marketing, designing new products, or training staff.


As touched on above, the best ways to begin implementing lean principles into your business include:


  • Eliminating waste.
  • Ensuring products have been quality-tested.
  • Soliciting customer feedback.
  • Reaching out to suppliers.
  • Shortening production cycles.
  • Speeding up response time.
  • Reducing unnecessary inventory.
  • Extending employee autonomy.


Additionally, consider splitting up decision-making burdens across upper management. If one person makes the majority of decisions regarding manufacturing, inventory, and distribution processes, consider balancing task workflow.



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