We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Lean Tools?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated Feb 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Sometimes referred to as lean manufacturing tools, lean tools are processes and strategies that are used to identify issues in the production of goods or services, and resolve those issues in a way that increases the efficiency of the operation. A wide range of tools are used to evaluate situations and respond to them in a manner that helps to minimize waste and clear the way for earning greater profits. Businesses of all sizes can adapt these basic tools to any situation, whether the focus is on a production line or the way that tasks are carried out in an office setting.

Lean manufacturing in general has to do with making sure there is no waste of resources as quality products are created for eventual sale to consumers. Any action or set of circumstances that involves the use of resources in ways that do not aid in fulfilling this ultimate goal are considered wasteful, and must be eliminated from the operation. From this perspective, lean tools make it possible to continually evaluate what is happening with the company and make sure that nothing is being wasted.

Several types of lean tools have to do with identifying any reasons for defects in the quality of the goods produced, and ridding the process of those reasons as a way to offer a better product to consumers. An example would be an approach known as Six Sigma, where the use of a combination of statistical data, quality control measures that relate to employee safety, cycle time, delivery of product, and even the quality of raw materials. Originally developed and employed by Motorola, the Six Sigma approach has both supporters and detractors within the business community, with some finding it to be an excellent tool in lean manufacturing, and others feeling it is too highly structured to allow the approach to be adapted to certain situations.

The range of lean tools is extremely broad, allowing for many different combinations of strategies to be employed in order to achieve the desired effect. In some cases, the tools may focus on organizing the flow of production to better advantage by identifying where the flow is working well and where it can be improved by rearranging the placement of production machinery.

At other times, refining the process involves employing a tool known as activity-based costing. This and similar types of lean tools look closely at the return that is earned from different products offered as part of an overall product line. By investigating closely both the cost and the return related to the manufacturing and sale of a given product, it is possible to determine if that product is profitable, and if it could be made more profitable by addressing a few identified issues with the production process. Lean tools like activity-based costing also can make it possible to determine if the product should be discontinued in favor of expanding the production of goods that are more in demand, assuming the return is low and the demand small.

Some lean tools are not strategies, but are physical items used as part of a process. Labels used in color coding records or identifying stages in a production process can be identified as tools. Containers that are transparent or that are designed to stack securely are also examples of lean tools. As long as the item in question is aiding the company in producing a quality product at a reasonable price, and ultimately providing satisfaction to the customer, there is a good chance the item is a lean tool of some type.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.