Lean Production

We help you to achieve an effective and lean production.

Lean and digitization go hand in hand

The term lean production was introduced in the 1990s with the Toyota Production System and has been continuously developed. Lean Production helps companies to use their production factors efficiently. Companies in different industries have developed and implemented their own production systems. ifp consulting supports its clients in creating an individual concept for their product based on basic principles, system elements and methods that pursue clear goals and performance indicators.

The basic principles include customer-oriented value creation, efficient value streams, continuous flow principle and continuous improvement. The system elements are based on methods for optimizing the processes, organization and behavior of people. This optimization streamlines workflows and processes, resulting in positive effects such as higher productivity, better quality and lower costs. Lean production thrives on positive real-world experience. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out the transformation process in the form of a pilot application. It is extremely important that executives and management exemplify the principles and act as coaches for employees, because a successful production system depends on the participation of everyone.

When implementing a production system, digital solutions for direct and indirect production areas can also be integrated. This concerns direct production areas (manufacturing, assembly, testing) as well as indirect areas (logistics, quality, maintenance, IT system) and support functions (HR, finance, controlling, purchasing).

Examples of such approaches include preventive and predictive maintenance routines and digital performance management. Digital dashboards (Andon boards) make key performance indicators visible to employees and management in real time. Deviations can be quickly detected and corrected, which avoids errors and saves costs. Additional incentive systems motivate employees and support the continuous improvement process (Kaizen).

Why does lean fail?

Introducing (digital) lean for the sake of the lean trend is doomed to failure from the start. The introduction of Lean means a change in corporate culture as well as in leadership and the involvement of all employees in Lean thinking.

Many Lean projects fail due to half-hearted implementations of generic Lean methods that have not been adapted to the company’s own requirements. Unused, colorful lean boards on the shop floor without the classic PDCA approach to tracking and continuous improvement are tragic examples of failed implementations, demotivated employees, and disappointed leaders.

Lean thinking must be exemplified by management and communicated to the shop floor, because this is the only way new methods can show their benefits. The Lean idea must reach and be anchored in the minds of all employees in order to sustainably identify waste and increase productivity.

If we also look at the digital reality in many companies, we see two critical developments and manifestations in the design and implementation of lean production systems:

  1. The processes are not optimized, but an attempt is made to address the problem with a digital solution. Inefficient, undefined or slow processes can only be optimized to a limited extent through digitization. Only processes that are already coordinated can exploit the full optimization potential of digitization.
  2. Digital solutions are introduced in an uncoordinated manner, which can result in considerable additional work, e.g. programming, maintenance of the solutions, etc. In addition, companies that operate in multiple locations waste the corresponding “economies of scale” through an uncoordinated introduction of digital solutions, or solutions are only calculated for ROI with the application at one location and not in multiple applications at multiple locations;

The remedy here is a clear digitization strategy, a corresponding organization and clear governance.

In summary, it can be stated: the extension of lean production approaches by digital solutions can lift further optimization potentials, but should be introduced following a holistic concept. With this comprehensive approach, taking into account the accompanying cultural change in the company, implementation is only successful if all hierarchical levels are integrated into the process from the very beginning.

Structured lean success with consulting from ifp consulting

The approach used by ifp consulting to introduce a (digital) lean production system is based in the first step on the objectives and strategy of the company as a whole. Derived from this, the definition and determination of the targets as well as the corresponding KPI values for the introduction of the (digital) production system takes place. This is already transferred at the beginning into so-called rules and guard rails for the own production system.

In the second step, we recommend the inspiring Best in Class visit of at least 2 companies that have already successfully implemented a (digital) lean production system.

Building on the impressions and findings, the evaluation of the own performance and the state in relation to the characteristics of a lean production system is then carried out. The preceding Best in Class visit thus also has an “eye opener” effect in order to be able to better classify one’s own performance.

In the fourth step, the basic principles and system elements are selected specifically for the company, designed and backed up with objectives. This ensures that the combination of individual elements contributes to the achievement of the overall goal. This stage also includes broad employee training and “train the trainer” education within the company to ensure better scaling in the later rollout.

Implementation in a pilot application marks the conclusion of the first phase. Immediate implementation means that inadequacies and weaknesses in the production system can be quickly identified and remedied before the system is rolled out across the board. Since not all technical measures can be implemented in a pilot application (e.g. delivery time of suppliers, etc.), a medium- and long-term implementation roadmap is developed at the same time, which is then consistently implemented.

Rollout to other production areas, plants or regions allows the effect to scale beyond the pilot system.

This 5-step approach not only ensures the involvement of all employees in the design and implementation process, but also ensures that the “train the trainer” program enables internal resources to carry out the further rollout as well as the continuous improvement afterwards on their own.


ifp USP

Thanks to many years of experience and a sector-neutral focus, ifp consulting can support you with advice on

  • Clearly state the objective of the production system and back it up with target values
  • Involvement of all relevant employees in the goal-setting process to increase acceptance
  • Cultural change across all hierarchical levels
  • Involving and raising awareness among managers
  • Pilot implementation in a short period of time as a quick-win opportunity and initiator to empower the organization
  • Use of proven tools and methods to clearly identify the current state and, derived from this, to individually conceptualize and design the basic principles and system elements (e.g. SMED workshops, process analysis, production and material flow simulation, identification and minimization of waste, etc.).
  • Systematic expansion to include digital design elements in the direction of Lean 4.0 on the basis of a holistic digitization strategy with corresponding characteristics
  • First, optimization of traditional processes for transformation towards digital processes
  • Gradual and consistent introduction and stabilization of digital applications in order to generate trust within the company and among employees