Lean Manufacturing

All businesses are constantly looking for continuous improvement opportunities. By adopting lean manufacturing principles, food businesses, in particular, can achieve notable results.

The key principle of lean manufacturing is to relentlessly reduce waste and hasten the flow of the product to the consumer. Because food producers and manufacturers work with perishable products that cannot accumulate, they are familiar with the need to ensure product is continuously flowing out the plant door and into the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible.

Lean thinking offers a fundamental shift away from traditional manufacturing towards a more systematic approach, focused on reducing any non-value adding or wasteful activities. Unlike traditional manufacturing systems, which include allowances for flaws and errors, in lean manufacturing the product is valued from a customer’s perspective and this does not allow for extra expense or wastage incurred when production systems are inefficient.

Because lean manufacturing reduces waste across processes in the business, it is also good for the environment.

Lean manufacturing improves the productivity of a business while increasing the performance across the four key areas of quality, cost, delivery and flexibility.

Other benefits which support the adoption of a lean manufacturing approach include:

  • benchmarking performance across industries and business
  • waste identification and elimination
  • strategic planning and implementation
  • business process re-engineering
  • centralisation
  • supply chain optimisation
  • training and certifying your staff
  • optimisation and creating work flows


Organisations interested in learning more about lean manufacturing may be interested in the Australian Industry Group Lean Japan Tour.

This week-long lean study tour has been run annually since 2007 by Food SA member Shinka Management and provides participants with the unique opportunity to visit world-class Japanese manufacturing and food production facilities. Participants visit a Toyota Group lean training facility, take part in lean management seminars, and experience factory tours. The highlight of the tour is meeting and learning first-hand from Japanese managers responsible for instilling a lean culture within their organisations.

The tour is targeted at senior management and guarantees an immersive experience into the original Japanese thinking behind lean and its successful application across a range of industries. Factories visited by previous tours include Toyota, Rinnai, Kewpie Mayonnaise, Kirin Breweries, Sekisui Heim and Panasonic.

For further information see Lean Study Tour.

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