Have you considered adding Lean manufacturing methodologies to your quality management system as a way of focusing the improvement activities? If so, you are amongst many companies that realise they can save time and money through process improvement. One of the key principles of the ISO 9001 standard is a continual improvement, but ISO 9001 does not explain how to implement or maintain this improvement. Lean manufacturing methodologies can provide this how-to information.

How does Lean fit with ISO 9001?
It is not an either/or choice between ISO 9001 and Lean; both can be used. Lean can help provide the process improvements that are required by the ISO 9001 quality management system. Integrating Lean manufacturing methodologies into your ISO 9001 quality management system can help you to improve by identifying and removing waste from your processes, leading to an overall process that flows more smoothly and creates better value for you and your customer. This is a good return on your investment and a good fit to support your quality management system.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is the concept that using resources for any purpose other than creating value for the customer is waste, and waste should be eliminated, or at least reduced. In the language of Lean, the Japanese words for waste: “Muda,” and improvement: “Kaizen,” are often used. Lean sees value in any actions or processes that the customer is willing to pay for. By removing other wasted actions, you preserve the value with the expenditure of fewer resources and less work.

Lean methodologies are mainly based on the Toyota Production System, and have spread worldwide. Although different people will use a different number of types of waste, the basic set comes from the seven defined by Toyota: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, overproduction, and defects. The use of Lean will look at these different causes of waste in the process, including some additional causes depending on the person, and try to eliminate any that are unnecessary to create the product. The chief characteristic of Lean is the focus on waste elimination.