Lean Production for the Small Company: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Lean Production for the Small Company

1st Edition

By Mike Elbert

Productivity Press

295 pages | 189 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781439877791
pub: 2012-08-07
Hardback: 9781138438385
pub: 2018-02-19
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429251696
pub: 2018-02-19
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A hands-on guide to adapting Lean principles and the Toyota Production System to high-mix/low-volume environments, Lean Production for the Small Company uses charts, pictures, and easy-to-understand language to describe the methods needed to improve processes and eliminate waste. It walks readers through the correct order of implementation and describes problems and pitfalls along with time-tested solutions.

Explaining how to incorporate existing systems into a Lean strategy, the book starts with the fundamentals and builds on them to describe the full range of tools and processes needed to implement Lean. It outlines how to design factories for Lean manufacturing and demonstrates how to remove variations within business and manufacturing processes to achieve a smooth continuous flow of product that delivers your product on time to customers.

The tools, methods, and ideals discussed are applicable in any industry and all parts of your business—from manufacturing and sales to human resources. The text unveils new methods and tools that can help you reduce inventory, improve inventory turns, and facilitate raw material flow through the factory. It details how to use customer order demands to schedule the production floor, rather than using estimated production schedules. It also considers the accounting process and explains how to improve your cash-to-cash cycle time.

Drawing on the author’s decades of experience transforming high-mix plants to Lean, the text brings together coverage of the tools and processes that have made Toyota so successful. All the chapters in this book, when implemented, will result in a culture change that will transform your company into a learning organization that continuously eliminates waste and improves its processes.

Table of Contents


Who Should Use This Book

How to Use This Book

Brief History of Lean Manufacturing

Philosophy of Lean Manufacturing and Business Systems

Why Do We Need Lean Manufacturing and Business Systems

Fundamentals of Lean Production and Business Systems

Nine Critical Wastes in Business

Concerning Elimination of Waste

Fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing

The Five Whys’

Critical Importance of Management Commitment

Establish your Lean Team and Lean Leader

The Lean Coach

Lean Coach and Consultants

Lean Team

Lean Production and Your Employees

Some Will Leave Us (making the really tough decision, removing human roadblocks)

Lean Systems versus Six Sigma

Tools for Continuous Improvements

Step 1: Hands on

Example: Order out of Chaos

Housekeeping 5S

Beginning your Journey

Waste Walk

Plant Manager: Waiting (Idle Time)

Materials Manager: Excess Inventory

Finished Goods: Overproduction

Production Manager: Overproduction

Quality Manager: Defects

Purchasing Manager: Environmental

Planning Manager: Transportation

Manufacturing Engineering Manager: Excessive Motion

Lean Leader: Overprocessing

Current Lean Status

Value Stream Maps: The Amazing Tool (Critical to your Success)

What is a Value Stream Map and Why you Need It

Why a Value Stream Map Is Critical to Your Success

How to Create a Value Stream Map

Current State Map

Creating the Map

Gather Your Data

How to Read a Value Stream Map

Next, Compare the Current State Map to the Future State Map

Identify your Products

Continuous Improvement Projects

Identifying your Projects from your Maps

Which Project to do First

Machine Tools and Takt Time

Smoothing the Flow of Production

Balancing Product Mix in the Work Cell



Who Should be Audited?

Stabilizing your Process

Your First Kaizen Project Team

What is a Kaizen Event (continuous improvement event)

Team Make-up

Kaizen Event Process



Using Plan-Do-Check-Act

Kaizen Tool Box

Tool Box Inventory List

Continuous Flow

Step 1 - Determine Family Mix

Step 2 - First Production Cell

Step 3 - Create Goals and Result Chart

Stabilizing Your Process

Standing in the Circle

Standardize Work

Using Standardize Work

Reducing Variability

Leaders Standard Work versus Work Instructions

Team Leader Standard Work

Managers Standard Work


Daily Production Meetings

Work Cell and Factory Layout

Work Cell Layout

Ergonomic Design

Work Cell Material Handling Design

Creating your Lean Road Map (Strategy Deployment)


Strategic Lean Manufacturing Plan

Visual Controls and Visual Management

Visual Management Displays and Controls

Andon Display

Production Scheduling


MRP and Lean Complement Each Other

What Finished Goods Should I Stock?

Types of Pull Systems

Organizing and Controlling Finished Goods Warehouse

How to Schedule the Production Line (Value Stream)


Pacemaker Process

Efficiency versus Changeover

Supermarket (Warehouse) Location in the Factory

Signaling Material Withdrawal from the Market

Batch Production Signal Kanban

Production Capacity versus Changeover Time

Determining Production Lot Size

Reorder Trigger Point

Working With Out Work Orders

Labor and Material Accuracy

Work Order Back Flushing

Cycle Count Inventory

Material Management

Raw Material Inventory Management

Loading the PFEP

What Data to Input First

Equations Used with PFEP

Planning Minimum Inventory Levels

Value of Frequent Deliveries

Quantity of Containers Required

Material Reorder Points

Updating and Editing the PFEP

Creating the Raw Material Market

Organizing the Warehouse

Layout of the Supermarket

Creating the Supermarket

How do I Expedite Parts?

Timed Delivery Routes

Basic Material Handling Information

Creating Your Timed Delivery Routes

Point-of-Use Rack Design

Pull Signal Material

Coupled versus Decoupled Routes (What’s the Difference)?

Determining the Number of Pull Signals


Sustaining the Material Handling System

Supplier Replenishment to Your Warehouse

Getting Started

Finished Goods Replacement

Tying in Finished Goods Warehouse to the Production Floor

Packaging Schedule Board

How to Use the Packaging Schedule Board

Sequence of Operation

Standardized Problem-Solving Method

Problem Solving

Recognize You Have a Problem

Elevate to the Next Higher Level

Evaluate the Severity of the Problem

Control the Expansion of the Problem

Containing the Problem

Preventing a Recurrence

Inspect Every Job


Where Do You Start Error-Proofing?

General Inspection

100% Inspection

Error-Proofing Devices

Immediate Feedback

Statistical Process Control and Mistake-Proofing

Working with Suppliers and Partners


Looking for Suppliers

Seven Characteristics of Supplier-Customer Partnering

Outsourcing Products

Group Suppliers by Capability

Lean Accounting

Show me the Money

Performance Goals

Box Scores

What You Get For Your Effort

Profit and Loss (Income) Statements

Cash-to-Cash Cycle

Calculate Cash-to-Cash Cycle

Achieving a Higher Level of Lean

Culture Change: Learning to Stop and Fix the Problem

Changing the Culture Change

Key Ingredients to Cultural Change

Team Leader and Stopping the Production Line

Creating a Culture that will Stop and Fix Problems (Get Out of Fire Fighting)

Using Metrics to Track Change

To Change a Culture, Change a Behavior

Final Thoughts

What have we Learned

Sustaining Lean Conversion

The Human Factor

Goals and Measurements

Rewards Help

Where do you Find People with Lean Business Knowledge?





About the Author


Mike Elbert is president of Elbert Lean Business Systems, LLC, a consulting service that helps businesses eliminate waste. A qualified Lean Practitioner, Mike is a leader in business and manufacturing processes and systems with an MBA in manufacturing systems from the University of St. Thomas.

Industries that Mike has worked in include electronic components, consumer electronics, heavy metal fabrication, precision machining, plastic and rubber molding, and medical device manufacturing. He spent more than twenty-five years as a manager of engineering, quality, product, and process design, and he understands the importance of planning, teamwork, and accountability.

During his thirty-plus years in manufacturing, Mike has worked in a diverse range of organizations, including small-, mid-, and large-sized corporations. For the past twenty-five years, he has worked with Lean manufacturing systems and its predecessors, focusing on improving manufacturing processes and equipment.

Mike believes that any business, including start-ups, can improve efficiency and income by identifying and eliminating waste from processes, including the extended supply chain. He offers a range of programs and services that include teaching Lean business systems, facilitating improvement meetings, and directing the overall transformation of your company to a Lean organization. Drawing on decades of experience in low- and high-volume production, he now focuses mainly on the implementation of Lean business and manufacturing systems while also providing many classical industrial engineering products.

After a career spent reducing costs and improving manufacturing efficiency, Mike now teaches and coaches others on how to achieve the same success. He is passionate about Lean business and manufacturing systems and their ability to improve your company, products, and customer satisfaction.

Mike has published articles and has been quoted in Industrial Engineeringmagazine, and was a columnist for the Minnesota Manufacturers Alliance’s monthly newsletter. He has taught seminars for the Minnesota Manufacturers Alliance, Minnesota Employers Association, and nationally for the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He is a life member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and a member of its Twin Cities Chapter 38.

Mike Elbert is available for private consultations on Lean Enterprise Systems, operations management, industrial engineering, and facility design. For more information, please visit his website at www.elbertleansystems.com.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Manufacturing Industries
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industrial Management