What is Lean Design?

Applying continuous improvement to a poorly designed line can actually become a form of waste. The solution to endless Kaizen events is what we call Lean Design. It is the act of designing — and implementing — your manufacturing processes so that they flow seamlessly from one process to the next, without delays or mistakes.

Our step-by-step methodology uses industrial engineering principles to arrange a production line as a series of sequential workstations. This allows you to build a product progressively. By arranging workstations to work progressively (or, as we call it, “flow”), your production lines will facilitate the implementation of quality steps that double check critical product features.

If you feel like you are conducting endless Kaizen events, there's a good chance it is because your production line was not designed correctly in the first place!

Benefits of Lean Design

Reduced customer response time.

Shortened manufacturing cycle time.

Less floor space is required.

Improved quality.

Less working capital is required.

Improved flexibility.

It is common to see Manufacturing Cycle Time improvements of 70% or 80% or even 90% when a manufacturer switches from traditional batch scheduling to a Mixed Model methodology.

Does this sound like you?

Over time, manufacturing companies develop a large number of different products and services. Sounds obvious, but here’s the problem: as new products are launched, the old ones don’t go away. The product list continues to grow. These products are often similar, but with enough differences to mess things up.

So how do you build many different products without wasting floor space, lowering productivity, or having to invest millions in additional equipment and tooling? The answer is an industrial engineering methodology called Lean Design.

Lean Design cherry-picks the best parts of Lean and Six Sigma then combines them with solid industrial engineering principles in order to design world-class production lines and value streams. A production line created by following this methodology can produce a variety of different products on the same line, without sacrificing productivity, space, inventory, quality, or manufacturing lead-time.

The term we use to describe this type of production is Mixed Model. Designing a Mixed Model production lines allows you to link and balance your processes, which eliminates waiting time and allows your materials to flow.

A Mixed Model production line is designed to build a family of products using the same manufacturing resources. The advantages of mixing products in one line are many including the capacity to absorb swings in customer demand. A Mixed Model line requires planning or scheduling to build product, but that function takes place at the line level, rather than at the individual resource level. Products flow from process to process without interruptions, accumulating standard work toward their point of completion.

“Is an organization’s skill in after-the-fact Kaizen – that is, its talent for process rework – actually reducing the pressure for the hard conversations about lean process development that ought to be taking place during product development instead?”
Jim Womack
lean thought leader

Have your Lean efforts stalled?

Incorporating Lean concepts into the physical design of your production line will guarantee far greater results than simply buying into an abstract philosophy. The Lean Design methodology impacts the actual factory floor, not just company culture. By following our steps, you will see quantifiable results in terms of operator productivity, reducing your required floor space, and freeing up working capital.

At Leonardo Group Americas our Principals have 25+ years of experience designing Lean production lines and material management systems. We’ve broken the Lean Design process into two major categories:

For the past several years, we have partnered with Toyota Material Handling in order to bring these workshops to hundreds of Lean Specialists, Industrial Engineers, and Supply Chain Professionals. Large-scale production line redesigns occur once or twice in the entire career of most industrial engineers. We have completed thousands of line designs. Our proven set of steps has been successfully implemented by the biggest names in industry.