Lean manufacturing is a process improvement methodology based upon the highly acclaimed Toyota Production System (TPS). The main focus in lean manufacturing is the removal of waste from a value stream. Waste in this instance is defined as anything that consumes resource but does not add value for the customer. By removing the waste in a value stream it becomes possible to only produce the right material, in the quantity desired by the customer, at exactly the right time. This results in a process that is more efficient and delivers product to the customer more quickly. The elements within a value stream that add value for the customer tend to represent a very small percentage of the total process. Therefore focusing on removing the waste , or non-value adding elements represents a significant opportunity for improvement in many businesses.
Japanese for Continuous Improvement. Based on the philosophy that what we do today should be better than yesterday and what we do tomorrow should be better than today, never resting or accepting status quo. Continuous Improvement recognizes that Muda (waste) exists everywhere related to people, materials and facilities, or the production set-up itself.
Kaizen also refers to a series of activities where instances of waste are eliminated one by one at minimal cost, by workers pooling their knowledge and increasing efficiency in a timely manner. Kaizen activities typically emphasize manual work operations rather than equipment.