Top 5 Lean Tools Everyone Needs to Know

lean tools

Minimizing or eliminating the 7 Wastes of Lean is the main purpose of Lean tools. Here a list of the top five and a brief explanation of how they help organizations reduce or eliminate waste.

1. 5s

When it comes to total quality, no tool is used more than 5s. It is a Japanese concept, but it still translates to 5s in English. Here is what each ‘S’ stands for:


  • Seiri (Sort): Sort everything to prevent the wastage of space and resources
  • Seiton (Set): Each workspace must be organized effectively
  • Seiso (Shine): Make sure that your environment is always clean
  • Siketsu (Standardize): Everything that promotes work in a healthy and ergonomic manner should be normalized.
  • Shitisuke (Sustain): Continuous improvement and collaboration should be encouraged and embedded in the organization’s culture.

2. Kaizen

Kaizen is a tool that is meant to boost productivity while minimizing costs. It states that the best way to do this is through continuous movement. One of the methods used to implement Kaizen is called the PDCA cycle.

3. Poka-Yoke

To avoid production defects from happening, poka-yoke uses what is known as error prevention mechanisms. An example of a poka-yoke would be if an operator was pushing a machine to its limit and it started to overheat. In this scenario, temperature sensors attached to the machine would sense this and shut the machine down for it to cool down before total mechanical failure.

4. Just in Time (JIT)

JIT is a Lean tool that has become relevant now more than ever with the rise of e-commerce and the increasing complexity of supply chains. JIT emphasises on producing only the required quantity of goods to meet current demand. This is to reduce Inventory waste.

5. Takt Time

When products are produced sequentially, takt time is the average time between finishing a unit and starting the production of another. It tells the manufacturer how much time their production assembly can be expected to meet demand.