Lean is the concept of Continuous Improvement first developed in Japan by the Toyota car company. It is a systematic method for teaching staff to identify and remove waste from within a companies operations without sacrificing productivity or quality. The traditional  8 Deadly wastes identified by Taiichi Ohno are below, when a company is properly utilising Lean its staff are constantly identifying the below wastes throughout the companies processes and identifying ways to remove them.


8 Wastes of Lean

Transport—Moving of people, products and information around the business

Inventory—Storage of excess goods and materials

Motion— Excess motion created by overcomplicated process

Waiting—No value created by bottlenecks

Overproducing—Producing more than is immediately required

Overprocessing—Undertaking more steps than are required

Defects—Not right first time

Staff Potential—Staff not being utilised to their greatest potential


Key Lean Methodologies

Kaizen - Literally translated from Japanese, Kaizen means “Change for Better.” The concept of Kaizen is continuous improvement within the business, large or small, with the businesses processes being continually fine tuned and improving.


5S (Workplace Organisation) - A method of teaching staff to organise their work stations effectively, first  they “Sort” the area in the most efficient manner, leaving only items essential to undertake their job role, followed by “Setting in order” all the necessary items of the area.  Once the area is organised they “Shine/Sweep”, cleaning the area, followed by “Standardising” the work area then “Sustaining” the new found organisation so that it becomes their set way of working.  Regular audits are then undertaken to maintain and improve the 5s within area.


Visual Management Systems - Visual Management Systems are any technique where information is displayed using visual signs, including Production Charts, Shadowboards, Work Instructions, Floor Markings etc. Visual Management is closely linked with 5S and aims to make any situation easily understood just by looking at it.


Flow Process Analysis - Flow Process Analysis involves mapping out each step within a process and identifying whether it is Value added or Non Value Added (Waste). Once these wastes have been identified steps can be taken to remove them from the process.


Problem Solving Techniques - When problems occur many organisatons cover them with a “band-aid” just for them to reoccur in the future. Problem Solving Techniques involves systematically identifying the Root Cause of a problem then identifying a long term solution to prevent reoccurrence and improve efficiency. 


Kanban - Literally translated from Japanese Kanban means "signboard," and is a scheduling system designed to limit the buildup of excess inventory whilst ensuring teh correct inventory is where it needs to be when it is needed


Poka Yoke - "Error-Proofing" in Japanese, Poka Yoke is a mechanism designed to ensure an operator avoids mistakes when undertaking any operation. Basic everyday examples include airplane lavatory lights only turning on when the door is locked to avoid customers forgetting to lock the door when using the facilities, microwaves only turning on when the door is shut to avoid burning the user, modern car petrol valves being connected to the car to avoid the user placing the valve on top of the car and forgetting about it when they drive off and machine parts being cut to size to ensure they can only cut to the specific required measurements.   

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