Lean Management Tools Tutorial

Welcome to the third chapter of the Lean Management tutorial (part of the Lean Management Certification Training). 

Here, we will talk in detail about different types of Lean “Tools.”  

In the next section, we will start with objectives of what we are going to cover in this section and then go into detail about each of the topics listed in objectives.


In this chapter, we shall briefly discuss:

  • 5S + 1

  • Value-Stream Mapping

  • Kaizen, and Kaizen Blitz

  • Takt, Jidoka, Kanban

  • Poka-yoke

  • SMED

In the next section, we will start with “5S + 1” tools.

5S Plus the 1

In this section, we will cover the 5s, which are:

  • Seiri (Sort)

  • Seiton (Simplify)

  • Seiso (Sweep)

  • Seiketsu (Standardize)

  • Shitsuke (Sustain)

  • Safety

These techniques help in improved safety, ownership of workspace improved productivity and improved maintenance. 

We will start with the first “S” Seiri.


Seiri is the Japanese word for Sort. It is the first step in making things cleaned up, sorted, and organized. 

The 5S workplace organization process starts out by sorting the necessary and the unnecessary. 

To do this, one must go through all the tools, materials, and so forth, in the plant and work area and distinguish what is needed and what is not needed to carry out the work.  

The only things that should remain in a work the ea are the parts, tools, and instructions needed to do the job. There might be some cases where the operator is not sure, never assume, in those cases, it would be a good idea to discuss and get an agreement on something that is needed all the time or needed occasionally. 

Keep only essential items and eliminate what is not required, prioritize things as per requirements and keep them in easily-accessible places. 

Everything that is unwanted, unnecessary, and unrelated in the workplace is stored or discarded. The amounts or quantity of item kept should be based on the requirements to get the work done. Right quality levels should be available when needed. Excess quantity of parts or tools will deviate from this principle as those would be considered unnecessary to carry out the work at that moment of time. 

While carrying out this exercise, it is necessary that the items are marked or tagged appropriately so that it can be visually recognized if it is necessary or unnecessary. Tag items if not used within a month, or that are unnecessary to perform a task, or that are broken or not usable, or insufficient for an intended purpose. 

People involved in Seiri must not feel sorry for having to throw away things. The idea is to ensure that everything left in the workplace is related to work. Even the number of necessary items in the workplace must be kept to its absolute minimum. 

Because of Seiri, simplification of tasks, effective use of space, and careful purchase of items follow. Remember! Redundant items cost money to store – If you don’t need it, don’t keep it!  

Try Seiri out in your workplace or home. One can identify several items that are not necessary or not used frequently. Still, it occupies space and will add to the time it takes to find out things that are needed out of the lot.

In the next section, we will cover the next in the 5S – called “Seiton.”

Interested in becoming a Lean Management expert? Check out our course preview now!


Once Seiri has been carried out, Seiton is implemented to classify by use and set in order items. The items left should have a designated area, with specified maximum levels of inventory for that area.

Seiton, or orderliness, is all about improving efficiency. This step consists of putting everything in an assigned place so that it can be accessed or retrieved quickly to minimize search time and effort, as well as returned in that same place quickly. If everyone has quick access to an item or materials, workflow becomes efficient, and the worker becomes productive. 

Organize storage for all equipment, i.e., (pronounced as that is) what, where and how many. The correct place, position, or holder for every tool, item, or material must be chosen carefully about how the work will be performed and who will use them.  

Every single item must be allocated its place for safekeeping, and each location must be labeled for easy identification of what it's for.  

When deciding on the location of the items, take into consideration its frequency of use along with the location relative to the point of use. If the items are frequently used, it is kept closer to the point of use, and those that are used less frequently are stored at another place. 

All the items are adequately marked or color-coded so that it can be visually located and also space is marked, such that if the item is missing from its regular storage space, it can be visually identified. In summary, one will be able to achieve “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

In the next section, we will cover the third “S” called “Seiso.”


The third stage of 5S is keeping everything clean and swept. Once the clutter that has been clogging the work areas is eliminated, and remaining items are organized, the next step is to thoroughly clean the work area.  

Daily follow-up cleaning is necessary to sustain this improvement. Working in a clean environment enables workers to notice malfunctions in equipment such as leaks, vibrations, breakages, and misalignments. These changes, if left unattended, could lead to equipment failure and loss of production. This maintains a safer work area and problem areas are quickly identified. 

All tools and equipment should be cleaned. Trash and dirt may be obscuring worn or frayed wiring. Oil buildup on a machine may indicate a leak or crack which needs to be repaired or replaced. Part of the purpose of the shining step is to expose problems.

An important part of “shining” is “Mess Prevention.” In other words, don’t allow litter, scrap, shavings, cuttings, etc., to land on the floor in the first place.

This step is very important, and the team must focus not only on cleaning the area, but also finding the cause or the origin of contamination. 

The purpose is to create awareness and go to the cause of the problem. For thousands of years, everyday labor is used to clean machines and areas that should not have gotten dirty in the first place. 

When the team is cleaning any part of the area, they should ask themselves these questions: 

  • First, why are they cleaning?  
  • Second, what is causing the “dirt”?  
  • Third, why is it being deposited there?  
  • Fourth, is the guarding wrong?  
  • Fifth, is there a way to remove it automatically?
  • Sixth, how can we prevent this from getting dirty again?

And so on.

This will help the operator discover and tackle the issues rather than living with them. The point of Seiso or "shine and check" is not just to make things pretty and nice for the customers, but to make problems visible. 

Since all of the rubbish, out of place and excess work in progress has been removed, you should have a clear view of what needs to be cleaned. Be sure and look over, under and above every area to find hidden dirt and debris. 

Organizations create a formalized cleaning schedule of who should do what, when, with what, etc. It includes specific cleaning instructions for the work environment, including which cleaning supplies to use and where. 

Cleanliness is the basis of quality. Once the workplace is clean, it must be maintained. Planning a cleanliness campaign is a five-step process including cleanliness targets, assignments, methods, tools, and follow-up inspections. 

The goal is threefold: First to turn the workplace into a clean, bright place where people enjoy working, second is to review the first two 5s, and third to find the source of dirt or litter and eliminate it. 

The definition of cleanliness is "keeping everything swept and clean." "Shine" should become deeply ingrained as a daily work habit that tools are also kept in top condition and are ready for use at any time. Cleaning must become an activity which is ongoing and continuously monitored.

Examine all these items on a daily basis. The process is not that much time consuming, but essential to clean up your workplace and most required in 5S. The conscientiousness to keep the office clean should be circulated to everyone in the group. 

In the next section, we will cover the fourth “S” called “Seiketsu.”


Once the first three “S” of the 5S’s have been implemented, the next pillar is to standardize the best practices in the work area.

Standardize, the method to maintain the first three pillars creates a consistent approach to which tasks and procedures are done. It details a plan to maintain the continual improvement activities. 

The plan should include the creation of procedures and simple daily checklists that are to be visibly posted in each work area. The checklist should serve as a visual to ensure that the daily 5S requirements are met. It consists of defining the standards by which personnel must measure and maintain 'cleanliness.' 

Seiketsu encompasses both personal and environmental cleanliness. Personnel must, therefore, practice 'Seiketsu' starting with their tidiness. The three steps in this process are assigning 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine) job responsibilities, integrating 5S duties into regular work duties, and checking on the maintenance of 5S. 

Some of the tools used in standardizing the 5S procedures are job cycle charts, visual cues (e.g., signs, placards, display scoreboards), scheduling of "five-minute" 5S periods, and checklists. It involves creating a consistent approach for carrying out tasks and procedures. 

Orderliness is the core of “standardization” and is maintained by “Visual Controls.” Visual management is an important ingredient of Seiketsu. Color coding and standardized coloration of surroundings are used for easier visual identification of anomalies in the surroundings. 

The second part of standardizing is prevention - preventing accumulation of unneeded items, preventing procedures from breaking down, and preventing equipment and materials from getting dirty. All workstations for a particular job should be identical. 

All employees doing the same job should be able to work in any station with the same tools that are in the same location in every station. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3Ss (read as three esses). Preventative maintenance is routinely performed, perhaps with planning and scheduling.

Some responsibilities carried out by the central maintenance department and as much routine maintenance as possible performed by the people that know that work center better than anyone else. 

While implementing this, it is important to follow the following steps:

  • Develop a routine for sorting, setting, and shining.

  • Decide what is classed as an abnormality and make it visible to the operator.

  • Design clear, standard labels for locations, tools, machine conditions and locate them in standard positions.

  • Provide indicators where limits can be exceeded.

  • Draw position markers in places where items are removed and returned.

  • Make it easy to maintain - simplify and standardize.

  • Action to be taken in case any abnormality is detected.

  • Personnel is trained to detect abnormalities using these visual controls and to take appropriate action to correct such abnormalities immediately.

In the next section, we will cover the fifth “S” called “Shitsuke.”

Willing to take up a course in Lean Management? Check out our Lean Management Course Preview!


Shitsuke is the final step in 5S implementation which represents discipline and commitment of all other stages. Without “sustaining,” your workplace can easily revert to being dirty and chaotic. 

It denotes a commitment to maintain orderliness and to practice the first 4Ss as a way of life. Discipline is something that will change the future and is supposed to be sustained. Agree on management policy for cleaning. 

Appoint different people for different tasks and use audits to avoid the level to drop. Long-term results can only be achieved with consistency. Without discipline, it is impossible to maintain consistent standards of quality, safety, clean production, and process operation. 

The more closely workers can follow manufacturing standards, procedures, and rules, the less is the likelihood of errors, defects, waste, and accidents. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard of workplace organization. 

Without the sustaining pillar, the achievements of the other pillars will not last long. The 5Ss may be viewed as a philosophy, with employees following established and agreed upon rules at each step. The emphasis of Shitsuke is the elimination of bad habits and constant practice of good ones. 

Making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures is often the most difficult S to implement and achieve. Changing entrenched behaviors can be difficult, and the tendency is often to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the "old way" of doing things. 

By the time they arrive at Shitsuke, they will have developed the discipline to follow the 5 Ss in their daily work. 

Once true Shitsuke is achieved, personnel voluntarily observe cleanliness and orderliness at all times, without having to be reminded by management. Causes are routinely identified and dealt with. Shitsuke is when five S becomes a routine way of life. 

Tools for sustaining 5S include signs and posters, newsletters, checksheets, pocket manuals, team and management check-ins, performance reviews, and department tours. 

Organizations typically seek to reinforce 5S messages in multiple formats until it becomes "the way things are done." It is critical to involve everyone in the development of standard documentation and use visual rather than verbal communication to train for new procedures. Maintain and review standards. 

Once the previous 4Ss (pronounced as four esses) have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. 

When an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool, or a new output requirement, review the first 4Ss (pronounced as four esses) and make changes as appropriate. It should be made as a habit and be continually improved. In the next section, we will talk about the “sixth S.” 

While there are several additions to this “5S”, the most common one is “Safety.”


Some companies name their program 6S - to emphasize safety - but the truth is that safety is inseparably intertwined with every one of the traditional five categories.

An uncluttered workplace is a safer workplace. A well-maintained piece of equipment is a safer piece of equipment. A clean workplace is a safer workplace. 

The Deep Horizon oil spill would not have happened if the workers had followed their standardized work. There is debate over whether including this sixth "S" promotes safety by stating this value explicitly, or if a comprehensive safety program is undermined when it is relegated to a single item in an efficiency-focused business methodology. 

In the next section, we will summarize the 5S + 1 tools.

5s plus 1 Summary

We have covered 5S + 1 tools.

Here is the summary of all those. 

The first “S” is for Sort - Only what is needed where is needed. 

The second “S” stands for Simplify - A place for everything and everything in its place. 

Next “S” is Sweep - Clean the workspace and keep it clean.

The fourth “S” is to Standardize the first three “S” – monitor and maintain. 

The last “S” of the original 5s is Sustain - Stick to the first 4s. 

The sixth “S” stands for Safety - Provide a safe environment for everybody. 

In the image below, you can see each of these stages of 5S along with picture examples from a manufacturing floor, and the over compassing circle stands for safety for everybody in everything.

5s+1 summary

In the next section, we will talk about value stream mapping.

Value Stream Mapping

It is a special type of flowchart that uses symbols known as "the language of Lean" to depict and improve the flow of inventory and information. 

Value stream mapping & analysis is a tool that allows you to see sources of waste, and plan to eliminate it. Value is a capability provided to a customer of the highest quality, at the right time, at an appropriate price as defined by the customer in what the customer is buying. 

The purpose of value stream mapping is to provide optimum value to the customer through a complete value creation process with minimum waste in the end-to-end process. 

Value stream mapping borne out of Lean ideology captures and presents the whole process from end to end in a method that is easy to understand by those working the process - it captures the current issues and presents a realistic picture. 

As with any Lean management toolset, the principal aim of value stream mapping is to improve processes. This is achieved by highlighting areas of waste within a process and thereby enabling businesses to eliminate these activities. 

Value stream mapping also has the benefit of categorizing process activity into three main areas - value-adds, nonvalue add, and waste. Through a simple to understand graphical format, the future state can be formulated and defined as a diagram showing an improved and altered process. 

The method encourages a team approach and through the capture of performance measurement data provides a mechanism to constructively critique activity. Participants in the activity are encouraged to suggest improvements and contribute toward and implement an action plan. 

In the next section, we will cover kaizen.


Kaizen was created in Japan following World War II. The word Kaizen means "continuous improvement." It comes from the Japanese words ("kai") which mean "change" or "to correct" and ("zen") which means "good." Kaizen means “good change” in Japanese. 

Kaizen is a system of continuous improvement in quality, technology, processes, company culture, productivity, safety, and leadership. Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. 

It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work, and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. 

In all, the process suggests a humanized approach to workers and increasing productivity. The idea is to nurture the company's human resources as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities. 

In most cases, these are not ideas for major changes. 

Kaizen is based on making little changes on a regular basis: always improving productivity, safety, and effectiveness while reducing waste. Kaizen encourages the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization that yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement.

An example would be: instead of going and taking large improvement tasks or projects. Start small, improve a smaller process, remove waste, and continuously improve toward perfection. 

One of the major kaizen tools is “Plan Do Check Act” cycle which is also known as the Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, or PDCA. It is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products.

It is usually represented in a cyclic diagram starting with “Plan” phase, and the last phase is “Act,” after which the cycle continues with the Plan phase.

kaizen in lean

Other techniques used in conjunction with PDCA include 5 Whys, which is a form of cause analysis in which the user asks "why" to a problem and finds an answer five successive times. 

There are normally a series of causes stemming from one problem, and they can be visualized in cause and effect manner using Ishikawa diagrams.

It is also called fishbone diagrams, herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, or Fishikawa. These are causal diagrams, created by Kaoru Ishikawa in the year 1968, that show the causes of a specific event. 

Common uses of the Ishikawa diagram are product design and quality defect prevention, to identify potential factors causing an overall effect. Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variation. 

In the next section, we will talk about kaizen blitz.

Kaizen Blitz

A Kaizen Blitz (or as it is also called, Kaikaku in Japanese) is a rapid improvement workshop designed to produce results/approaches to discrete process issues within a few days. 

It is a way for teams to carry out structured, but creative problem solving and process improvement, in a workshop environment, over a short timescale, typically 2 to 10 days. 

This is an offshoot of the kaizen philosophy also called a kaizen event. It is directed at looking at one issue and taking a week or more to fix it. This is a more focused event than the normal kaizen philosophy. This is used later on when improvements are already being made, and the focus is much narrower. 

Kaizen blitz implementation is small but constant. Although a kaizen blitz is discussed by a relatively small group of individuals in a short amount of time, the changes it brings in the operations of a company are dramatic. 

A blitz can be used to resolve a small but nagging long-term problem, or it can be used to completely redesign a procedure. It is a small improvement that brings about a drastic change. In other words, many things done a little better consistently can dramatically improve output. 

We will talk about “Takt” in the next section.


Takt time is the average customer demand time for an article. 

Lean manufacturing systems work on rhythm. The whole organization works on the rhythm provided by the customer. This rhythm is known as the TAKT time of the system. This is the ultimate pull scheduling system anyone can think about. 

“Takt” is the German word “Taktzeit” (translates to cycle time) for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the speed, beat or timing at which musicians play. So takt time is “Beat Time,” “Rate Time,” or “Heart Beat.” 

The lean production uses takt time as the rate at which a completed product needs to be finished to meet customer demand. If you have a takt time of two minutes that means every two minutes a complete product, assembly, or machine is produced off the line. 

The customers buying rate establishes takt time. It’s the rate at which the customer buys your product. So this means that over the course of a day, week, month, or year the customers you sell to are buying at a rate of one every two minutes. 

The takt time can be calculated using a simple formula:

TAKT time = net time available for production/customer demand

For an example think you work 8 hours a day for five days a week. 

For a week you have a demand of 100PCs. 

Then your calculation will be as follows. Takt = 8 x 5 x 60 minutes/100 PCs = 24 minutes, In reality, people and machines can never maintain 100% efficiency, and there may also be stoppages for other reasons. 

Allowances should be made for these instances, and thus the line will need to be set up to run at a faster rate to account for this. Takt time is an essential concept for the development of flow. It synchronizes the rate of production to the rate of sales to customers. 

Also, takt time may be adjusted according to requirements within the company.

For example, if one department delivers parts to several manufacturing lines, it often makes sense to use similar take times on all lines to smooth outflow from the preceding station. 

Customer demand can still be met by adjusting daily working time, reducing downtimes on machines, and so on. 

In the next section, we will talk about “Jidoka.”


Jidoka is the often forgotten pillar of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing yet it is one of the most important principles of Lean that can help you achieve true excellence. 

Jidoka is about quality at the source or built-in quality; no company can survive without the excellent quality of product and service, and Jidoka is the route through which this is achieved. Jidoka is a Japanese term used for autonomation meaning "intelligent automation" or "humanized automation." 

In practice, it means that an automated process is sufficiently "aware" of itself so that it will detect when the desired quality is produced, detect process malfunctions, detect product defects, stop itself and alert the operator. 

A future goal of autonomation is self-correction. In summary, Jidoka or autonomation improves the speed of detecting defects, reduces costs by reducing damage to work-in-progress and equipment, and by preventing further processing of flawed work-in-progress. 

It improves operator morale, particularly if the operator is trained to resolve problems rather than simply calling for a technician. This may also reduce direct labor costs by permitting one worker to "supervise" several machines.

In the next section, we will discuss “Kanban.”


Derived from the combination of two Japanese words, kan ("visual") and ban ("card" or "board"), kanban roughly translates to signboard or signal board. It is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. 

Taiichi Ohno, saw the relationship between the American supermarket and its customer as an efficient means of organizing production because a supermarket assures future stock while only supplying what the consumer has immediately signaled that he or she needs. The premise behind this organization is a visual signal, a kanban. 

In the case of a supermarket, it might be the level in a bin of oranges dipping below a certain marker. This visual signal, in turn, tells the supermarket employee to stock more oranges. 

Kanban uses the rate of demand to control the rate of production, passing demand from the end customer up through the chain of customer-store processes. In 1953, Toyota applied this logic in their main plant. In pull systems, products are created at a pace that matches customer demand. 

Kanbans are used to buffer variations in customer or next process step demands. The Japanese word kanban refers to the pulling of a product through a production process. 

Kanban intends to signal a preceding process that the next process needs parts or material. Kanban can be the relay signal between supplier and customer. Kanban signals can be generated by lights, colored balls down a tube, or a computer network. This is usually called “Kanban cards.” 

Kanban cards are a key component of kanban and signal the need to move materials within a manufacturing or production facility or move materials from an outside supplier into the production facility. 

The kanban card is, in effect, a message that signals the depletion of product, parts, or inventory that when received will trigger the replenishment of that product, part, or inventory. 

Consumption drives demand more and demand for more is signaled by the kanban card. Kanban cards, therefore, help to create a demand-driven system. A food market can know when to stock by keeping track of product volume sold through a barcode system.

A stock person responds to a product pull by replenishing the prescribed number using first-in, first-out product restocking. The supplier knows the volume of product to supply because of the kanban system. 

A simple example of the kanban system implementation might be a "three-bin system" for the supplied parts (where there is no in-house manufacturing) — one bin on the factory floor (demand point), one bin in the factory store, and one bin at the supplier's store.

The bins usually have a removable card that contains the product details and other relevant information — the kanban card. When the bin on the factory floor becomes empty (i.e., (pronounced as that is) there is demand for parts), the empty bin and kanban cards are returned to the factory store. 

The factory store then replaces the bin on the factory floor with a full bin. The factory store then contacts the supplier’s store and returns the now-empty bin with its kanban card. The supplier's inbound product bin with its kanban card is then delivered to the factory store, completing the final step in the system. 

Thus, the process will never run out of product and could be described as a loop, providing the exact amount required, with only one spare so that there will never be an oversupply. 

This 'spare' bin allows for the uncertainties in supply, use, and transport that are inherent in the system. The secret to a good kanban system is to calculate how many kanban cards are required for each product. Most factories using kanban use the colored board system. This slotted board was created especially for holding the kanban cards.

kanban in lean

In the next section, we will cover Poka Yoke.

Poka Yoke

Poka Yoke (poh-Kah you-key) is Japanese term for mistake-proofing developed and classified by Shigeo Shingo in the 1960s who wrote the definitive works on this technique, although he is not the one who invented the idea.

He differentiates between mistakes which in most cases are inevitable and defects which are mistakes that manage to get through the system and reach the customer. 

Poka-yoke seeks to prevent human errors and mistakes from becoming defects. It was originally described as Baka-yoke, but as this means "fool-proofing" (or "idiot-proofing") the name was changed to the milder poka-yoke. 

A poka-yoke is any mechanism in a Lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (you) mistakes (Poka). Poka-yoke helps people and processes work right the first time. Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. 

These techniques can drive defects out of products and processes and substantially improve quality and reliability. It is a simple technique that developed out of the Toyota Production system through Jidoka and autonomation. It is normally a simple and often inexpensive device that prevents defects from being made or highlights a defect so that it is not passed to the next operation. 

There are three types of poka-yoke for detecting and preventing errors. 

Contact method

The contact method identifies product defects by testing the product's shape, size, color, or other physical attributes. 

Fixed-value method

The fixed-value method alerts the operator if a certain number of movements are not made. 

Motion-step (or sequence) method

The motion-step (or sequence) method determines whether the prescribed steps of the process have been followed. Poka-yoke can be implemented at any step of a manufacturing process where something can go wrong, or an error can be made. 

For example, a jig that holds pieces for processing might be modified only to allow pieces to be held in the correct orientation, or a digital counter might track the number of spot welds on each piece to ensure that the worker executes the correct number of welds. 

Poka-yoke can also be implemented in service industries. Call centers have long had a challenge with compliance. Poor training, fatigue, forgetfulness, and the limits on human consistency all can lead to agents skipping key steps in the process.

Using agent-assisted automation, the agents can provide the customers with all the required disclosures using prerecorded audio files. 

In the next section, we will talk about SMED.


SMED is the term used to represent the Single-Minute Exchange of Die or setup time that can be counted in a single digit of minutes. SMED is often used interchangeably with “quick changeover.” SMED and quick changeover are the practice of reducing the time it takes to change a line or machine from running one product to the next. 

The concept arose in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Shigeo Shingo was consulting to a variety of companies including Toyota and was contemplating their inability to eliminate bottlenecks at car body-molding presses. The bottlenecks were caused by long tool changeover times which drove up production lot sizes. 

Shigeo Shingo was extraordinarily successful in helping companies to dramatically reduce their changeover times. His pioneering work led to documented reductions in changeover times averaging to about 94% (e.g., from 90 minutes to less than 5 minutes) across a wide range of companies. 

SMED is one of the many Lean production methods for reducing waste in a manufacturing process. It provides a rapid and efficient way of converting a manufacturing process from running the current product to running the next product. 

This rapid changeover is the key to reducing production lot sizes and thereby improving flow. Change over time is defined as the time difference between the last product produced and the next new product produced with the right quality and at the right speed. If we decrease the set-up times, we could use the extra capacity either to increase productivity or to decrease the batch sizes. 

The successful implementation of SMED and quick changeover is the key to a competitive advantage for any manufacturer that produces, prepares, processes, or packages a variety of products on a single machine, line, or cell.

SMED and quick changeover allow manufacturers to keep less inventory while supporting customer demand for products with very fewer variations. It also allows manufacturers to keep expensive equipment running because it can produce a variety of products. 

Changeover times that improve by a factor of 20 may be hard to imagine, but consider the simple example of changing a tire: For many people, changing a single tire can easily take 15 minutes. 

But, for a NASCAR pit crew, changing four tires takes less than 15 seconds.

In the diagram given below, an example of single minute change or die is shown. It demonstrates how right placement of die will help in enabling quick change.

Examples of SMED

This covers our lesson on major Lean tools and techniques. 

In the next section, we will summarize what we have learned in this lesson.

Want to check course preview of our Lean Management CourseClick here to watch!


Let’s look into the key points that we have learned so far:

  • Major Lean tools focused to eliminate waste.

  • Tools focused on identifying value in the process.

  • Tools focused on the process.

  • Tools that help in driving improvements.

I hope you had a great time learning about the Lean tools and how to use them.


Next, in the fourth chapter, we will learn about Lean in Manufacturing.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Request more information

For individuals
For business
Phone Number*
Your Message (Optional)
We are looking into your query.
Our consultants will get in touch with you soon.

A Simplilearn representative will get back to you in one business day.

First Name*
Last Name*
Work Email*
Phone Number*
Job Title*