Lean have a very extensive collection of lean tools and concepts, below are some of the most important ones listed with a brief description. If more information is needed, the link will bring you to a page where the individual tool is described in more details.
If you are interested in implementing some of the Lean Tools or get onsite training in using them, please contact us for a free consultation.
If you are new to Lean and haven’t had much involvement with it in the past, it can seem a bit overwhelming with all of the tools available. A good way to start would be to go through below list of tools with a brief description of the tool and how each one can improve your business.

Lean Tools – Not Just for Manufacturing

Even though Lean Tools originated for improving manufacturing processes, their use for sure isn’t limited to that environment. Today Lean Tools are used across many industries like healthcare, restaurants, call centres, manufacturing, Offices and the list could go on forever.
One of the other advantages is that the Lean Tools can be used individually, which make it easy for businesses to get started implementing lean principles. Later when more Lean Tools are used the benefits will compound, as the tools support and reinforce each other.

Lean Tools and 7 Wastes

The Lean Tools are all improving one or more of the 7 wastes defined in lean. The 7 wastes can be seen below, and for each lean tool it is described which type of waste it focuses on.

    • Transportation
    • Inventory
    • Motion
    • Waiting
    • Overproduction
    • Over processing
    • Defects
Lean Tool Description of Lean Tool Benefit of Lean Tool
2 Bin System 2 Bin System is one of the lean tools used for auto replenishment of new material to avoid downtime due to material shortage. Gives a visual system that easy indicates when parts need to be ordered.
Focus: inventory, waiting overproduction.
5 Whys 5 Whys is a tool used for root cause analysis, which is a technique that uncover the underlying cause of a problem by repeatedly asking why. Reveals the root cause of a problem, which will prevent reoccurrence of the issue if eliminated.
Focus: defects.
5S 5S is a system cleaning, organising and maintaining a work area.
It is often seen as the first step companies take when implementing lean, as it gives a great foundation for further improvement.
Maximise efficiency and improve the consistency of the work in the area.
It eliminates waste seen in a poorly maintained work area, e.g. eliminate time spend looking for a tool or using the wrong one.
Focus: waiting, defects, transportation, motion
A3 Report A3 Reporting is a popular lean tool for problem solving, and presents it on a single sheet of paper (including, root causes, potential solutions and action plans). It brings the user through a structured problem solving exercise and effectively communicates all the background information on the problem on a single sheet of paper.
Focus: defects
ABC Inventory ABC Inventory is a lean tool to reduce the storage expenses by dividing inventory into three categories for increased control on the vital few. It defines inventory stock levels, reorder points and cycle counting frequencies for items.
Focus: inventory
Andon Visual system for the manufacturing floor, with instant production status and alerts when attention is needed. Instant notification on problems so they can be addressed asap.
Focus: Waiting
Benchmarking Benchmarking is a lean tool to see how you compare to other companies in areas where you have performance gaps and there are opportunities for improvements. It provide a tool for comparing practices within an organization, and can prevent fall back on performance over time.
Focus: all
Bottleneck Analysis Bottleneck Analysis is one of the lean tools used to study a process, to identify the process step that limit capacity below what is required. Improves throughput by strengthening the weakest link in the manufacturing process.
Focus: inventory, motion, waiting
Cause and Affect Diagram Cause and Effect or Fishbone Diagrams is a lean tool used for root cause analysis during problem solving and continuous improvement activities Support with truly eliminating a problem, as the underlying root cause it identify can be removed.
Focus: defects
Cellular Manufacturing Cellular Manufacturing is a lean tool where all resources needed to produce a product is placed within a small cell. It allows you to produce just what is needed with minimum materials, equipment, labour, time and space.
Focus: waiting, motion, transportation, overproduction
Cross Training Cross Training is used to get a flexible workforce, where each of the workers is trained in each or more of the process steps within a working area. Get a flexible workforce where workers can cover each other when on break, leave or holiday.
Focus: waiting, defects
Empowerment Empowerment of people is a big part of lean, and encourages employees at all levels to take action to solve problems and improve the organisation. It motivates employees in their work and increases their participation in problem solving.
Focus: waiting
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) FMEA is an effective quality tool for analysing potential failures within a system and is used to identify risks early in the development process. It enables organisations to take a preventive rather than reactive approach on issues.
Focus: all
Flexible Manufacturing Systems Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) is an automated production, controlled by a central system and flexible to run several products without human interaction. Allows rapid changeovers, small batch sizes and reduced lead times in production.
Focus: all
Gemba Gemba walk is a lean tool that mean going to the place where the real actions take place, like the manufacturing floor in a factory. Give a better understanding of the issues by seeing them first hand where they occur and talking directly with the people involved.
Focus: defects
Heijunka Heijunka is a technique for levelling production and manufacture in smaller badges. Producing in smaller badges reduce inventory and make an organisation more flexible to customer demands.
Focus: waiting, inventory, overproduction
Hoshin Kanri Policy deployment that ensure company strategy, middle management and plant floor work towards same goals Ensure everyone work towards the same goals.
Focus: All
ISO 9001 ISO 9001 is a globally recognised standard that provide a framework that compliments lean and focus on continuous improvement. It helps with a foundation that makes it easy to identify opportunities for improvements and maintaining lean practices
Focus: all
Just in Time (JIT) Just in Time (JIT) is one of the essential lean tools for pull production based on customer demand rather than push production based on projected demand. Reduce inventory levels and space requirements due to pull instead of push production.
Focus: waiting, inventory, overproduction
Jidoka Jidoka is a lean tool that automatically stops a process or production line when a problem occurs. Reduce expensive labour to oversee machines and reduce defects.
Focus: waiting, defects
Kaizen Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement and promotes a culture where employees proactively work together to achieve regular, incremental improvements. Provide a continuous process to eliminate waste
Focus: all
Kanban Kanban is a lean tool for implementing a pull production where cards or bins are used for inventory replenishment. Reduce cost by inventory reduction and becoming more flexible to market change.
Focus: inventory, waiting, overproduction, defects
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Used to track progress on critical goals for the company and drive continuous improvement activities. Drives continuous improvement
Focus: All
Lean Supermarket A lean supermarket is a storage system designed to centralise components when One Piece flow is not possible. Reduce transport and waiting time waste in manufacturing by having needed parts close to where they are needed.
Focus: waiting, transport
Mass Customisation Mass Customisation is one of the lean tools used by companies to collaborate with costumers and provide unique products based on individual needs. Very large variety of products and the addition of new products with minimal changes to the production processes.
Focus: inventory, waiting
Milk Run Milk Run is a delivery method that is one of the lean tools to reduce travel distance and increase delivery frequency. Reduce travel distance and increase delivery frequency at no extra cost.
Focus: inventory, waiting
Mind Maps Mind Map is one of the lean tools that can be used to better understand the overall structure of a subject or problem. Offer great flexibility and can present complex systems in a very easy to understand format.
Focus: all
One Piece Flow Manufacturing where work in process smoothly flows through production with minimal buffers between steps of the manufacturing process compared to series production. Reduces waste like inventory, lead times and defects compared to standard series production.
Focus: inventory, waiting, transport
Pareto Chart Pareto Chart is a simple but very effective lean tool for problem solving, and use data to show which problems are hurting your business the most. Provide an overview of where to focus to get most out of improvement.
Focus: all
Poka Yoke Poka Yoke is a technique used to error proof a process or product, by making it impossible to make a mistake. Eliminate defects by error proofing processes.
Focus: defects
Process Map A process map is used to provide a visual representation of a process for better understanding it. Make it easier to identify opportunities for improvement in a process.
Focus: all
Six Sigma Six Sigma is a disciplined data driven method for continuous improvement to achieve near to perfect quality. process improvement and reduction of defects
Focus: all
SMART Goals SMART Goals is a way of setting goals that makes them clear and easy to understand, as well as measurable. Ensure that goals are effective.
Focus: all
Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) is a lean tool to dramatically reduce the changeover time to less than 10 min. Enables manufacturing in smaller lots, reduces inventory, and improves customer responsiveness.
Focus: inventory, waiting, defect
Six Big Losses Focus on eliminating the six big losses in manufacturing.
1. Breakdowns
2. Setup/Adjustments
3. Small Stops
4. Reduced Speed
5. Start-up Rejects
6. Production Rejects
Driving continuous improvement
Focus: All
Spaghetti Diagram Spaghetti Diagram is one of the lean tools to improve efficiency in a work area by analysing movement of material, information and people. Reduce transportation and motion waste.
Focus: transportation
Standardised Work Standardized Work is a technique where process procedures are documented so that an ideal standard work process is developed. Eliminates waste by consistently applying best practices.
Focus: all
Statistical Process Control (SPC) Statistical Process Control (SPC) is a system used to understand variation in a process. Support process and Continuous improvement.
Focus: defect
Takt Time Takt Time is a lean tool that regulates your production to run at speeds which match the customer demand for a product. Provide a simple and consistent method of pacing production.
Focus: inventory, waiting, defect
Time and Motion Study Time and Motion Study is one of the lean tools to reduce time and motion waste in a process. Support continuous improvement in eliminating motion waste, and can be used with value stream mapping.
Focus: motion
Total Productive Maintenance Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a lean tool that focuses on the machined used in production and gradually improving their efficiency. Creates a shared responsibility for equipment and encourages more involvement from the operators.
Focus: waiting, defects
Value Stream Mapping Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is used to visually map the flow of production and highlight the opportunities for improvements. Reduce lead times and remove unnecessary process steps.
Focus: all
Visual Management System Visual Management Systems is used in lean environments to provide key information and status updates within a work area. Make the status and condition of a work area very clear to everyone
Focus: all
Waste Walk Waste walk is used to identify and eliminate waste in a process or work area, and include auditing and implementation of actions. Identify waste in a work area by the use of waste focused audits.
Focus: all

Lean Tools