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Look to The Major Players of Lean for Lean Manufacturing Examples and Inspiration

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By Emilie A Lachance - August 15, 2018

For many companies, the prospect of switching over to a continuous improvement and lean manufacturing culture is daunting. The numbers have shown the incredible gains to be gleaned by implementing the tools of lean and continuous improvement, but often the aversion to the risk associated with major company change just proves to be too much.

But if there’s one great selling point for any process or product, it’s showing how it has helped someone else, and both the service and manufacturing industries are full of lean success stories.

Here is how some of the biggest companies today use the tools of lean principles and continuous improvement to maximize profitability:


The Toyota Motor Company is one of the greatest examples of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement fully embraced in a company culture. Their methods for continuous improvement are so well developed and precise they have their own name, the Toyota Production System (TPS).

With TPS, lean ideas are built in to the fabric of the company at all levels. Line workers in the factory are acknowledged as vital to the continuous improvement process, and carefully selected. The same is true of every other department, including sales, engineering, service, accounting, human resources, and more. Toyota also pays unprecedented attention to workers in its use of team-building training, and resources spent to teach all employees the importance of collaboration. This results in workers coming forward when they have an idea for improvement, a practice which leads to 2 million suggestions generated per year worldwide, with 95% of the workforce contributing. Most impressive of all, 90% of these suggestions are implemented.


Although not at the level of Toyota, Starbucks has made efforts to incorporate Kaizen practices into the workplace. This process involves restructuring store backlines, updating processes for labor development and redesigning drink crafting. The goals of the changes are to save money and resources, increase efficiency, prevent workplace injury, and become more environmentally friendly.

To encourage this, all supervising managers and above are required to read John Shook’s book on lean manufacturing. There has been some pushback against implementing lean, claiming that it reduces the personal touch that makes Starbucks great. However, repeatability doesn’t just mean every action needs to be exactly the same, but simply that the best, most efficient practices are introduced to give every customer a great experience every time. The switch also has estimates of 500 million dollars in saved costs, which makes it highly attractive to investors.

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Since the 1980’s Motorola has been one of the leading proponents of Lean Six Sigma in the manufacturing industry. Today, they use an updated version of the system referred to as Digital Six Sigma (DSS). In an interview with the Process Excellence Network, Director of Six Sigma at Motorola Tina Huesing described the system as a “business improvement methodology that focuses on customer requirements, process alignment, timely execution, etc. using applied statistical tools derived from Six Sigma.” Motorola make great use of Six Sigma’s belt system, allowing any employee to register for classes to obtain a quality IQ. After yellow belt, a nomination is required to continue, ensuring only the best problem-solvers rise through the ranks. Having a highly trained team of employees allows the company to streamline processes and cut costs by maximizing efficiency. Motorola even extends training opportunities to suppliers and clients, allowing the entire value chain to benefit from the system.

Though difficult, if done correctly lean manufacturing and continuous improvement can create massive improvement in company function, reducing capital loss, and opening new communication channels between all levels of management. Though already well-established, many of the biggest companies in the world are adopting CI practices to maximize profitability in an ever-accelerating world. Read our page on continuous improvement for a better idea of how your company can be radically improved.   

Worximity is deeply committed to the philosophies of Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing in food manufacturing. Using our IoT technology we provide company wide visibility into the statistics that matter to manufacturers and accelerate TTV (Time to Value) of investments in company culture and training to achieve outstanding productivity.

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