Improving Workshop Processes with Lean Management

Learn how this method can improve performance and workflow

A basic definition of lean management is a set of rules and core values that focus on making a positive and constructive impact on a company’s performance. This can be applied to anything from a craftsperson’s workshop to an automotive factory, or even a software development business. As lean management is a widespread organisation tool, any business could look at the following ideas and apply it to their own product or service:

  • Always provide value from the perspective of your customers
  • Get rid of waste: Remove any process or tool which doesn’t bring any usefulness
  • Continually seek to improve systems and methods to avoid complacency
  • Every employee is responsible for adhering to the rules of lean management
  • Respect everyone and listen to suggestions for improvement
  • Standardise practices to streamline workflow and ensure everyone is on the same page

If someone were to apply the benefits of lean management to craftspeople and tradespeople for their and a workshop and toolbox, for example, the likes of carpenters, welders, plumbers, potters, electricians, painters, etc., would then be much more flexible and could respond faster to customer requests. For instance, broken tools, messy workshops, and an unclear system showing which jobs have been completed and which haven’t is a perfect example of where lean management could be beneficial. This method is simply about improving workflow for customers and removing anything that wastes money, time, and effort.

What is 5S and how can it improve workshop efficiency?


Using lean management to arrange an efficient toolbox

Any craftsperson needs an organised toolbox as well as workshop, and it’s simple to use the same 5S methods to ensure tools and equipment are always where they should be. This makes finding the necessary tools as quick and easy as possible.

  • Only keep the most frequently used tools in the toolbox. The heavy duty tools should be placed on a peg board or in drawers (with labels) in a workshop.
  • It’s best to place nuts, bolts, washers, and other small items in plastic dividing trays.
  • Clear away broken tools or equipment that’s no longer needed. This only wastes valuable space.
  • To see everything you have, place a tarp or large piece of cardboard outside to properly lay out everything from the toolbox.
  • Always group things together: screwdrivers, wrenches, nuts and bolts, and so on. Get into the habit of placing things back into the same spot.
  • Set aside a separate section for your specialised markers. edding’s range includes the retract 11 permanent marker (for use with one hand), the 500 permanent marker (for labelling boxes, drawers, and other everyday tasks), and the 750 paint marker (best for heavy duty tasks for craftspeople and tradespeople working with glass, metal, and wood). If the material is rough or rusty, particularly with metal, stone, or wood, the edding 950 industry painter is good to keep in mind.

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