Lean Tools in Labour Intensive Manual Manufacturing



Could you please recommend which Lean tools are best to use in the start up of labour intensive manual electronic industry besides 5S ?

What would be your Lean road map with emphasizes on lean tools in other words?



I think I would have started with a SVM, see how long it takes for a product to go through, how much work in progress etc, see how to best plan the organisation for short leadtimes.


Thanks for help. Is it possible to start with some smaller Lean tools because we are still under training process because plant is starting with operation?

Coudl you recomend me specific tools?

Marian Adrian

Just start with 5s and wastes analysis simple tools but very effective
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John Broomfield

Super Moderator
Thanks for help. Is it possible to start with some smaller Lean tools because we are still under training process because plant is starting with operation?

Coudl you recomend me specific tools?


Leadership before tools.

You are about to engage the workers in removing causes of waste from their workplace. Make sure your leaders promise and keep their promise to use the increased capacity to increase throughput and prosperity for all instead of laying off workers.

What are the leaders doing to increase orders to make good use of working more efficiently?

This is far more important than any lean tool.

When leaders have the confidence of the workers they should then focus on analyzing the "value stream" or core process from customer needs to cash in the bank. This'll determine where to focus efforts on removing causes of waste.

You then choose the tool that best solves the problem.

Overall the plan is for single piece flow made at the same pace as the frequency of customer orders. It will take years of constant effort and it relies on having, using and improving your process-based management system.

Has your organization already developed it process-based management system? Does this system conform to the requirements of ISO 9001? If so, you have the foundations in place for your leaders potentially to transform their organization so it can double throughput without increasing resources.



Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
Hello Marian,

What tools are best for waste analyses, some attached examples would be beneficial?

Thank you.


  1. 5S has been mentioned as way to help eliminate waste.
  2. VSM (value stream mapping) has also been highlighted - to help identify risk and areas of waste.
  3. Leadership has been pointed out as the foundation to the whole process.

Honestly, it doesn't start off any more simple than 5S and VSM...from there, you can bring in other aspects from a lean methodology. Besides, why bring in anything else before you fully understand your processes and have removed all of the unneeded clutter?

You can search for more information on 5S and VSM here in the Cove as we have discussed these topics before and you may even find some help attachments.

However, if I had to recommend anything, I'd suggest some training for your organization. Training on what lean is, what the tools are and how they can be used.


Educating your team is a good step - Buy in from leaders will make it or break it.

I like to always start with the wider team creating the high level value stream - This is a great way to get everyone involved and to understand the concept of value vs. waste (nema washi).

Have your team leaders "lead" by facilitating 5S at a team level - Incorporate ongoing activities into standard work.

You can then get your teams to create lower level flow maps to illustrate flow through their areas of responsibility. Each product family may have its own flow map.

Then get your teams to identify and eliminate the waste as product moves through those maps - Create best practices as One Point Lessons (WI) and train each other to the new work standard.

Finally you want to focus on being agile in your change overs from one product to the other - Engage your teams and have them create ideas for SMED.
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