How We’re Pursuing a Better Way with the Lean Process

Kaizen, Muda, Gemba, Heijunka, Kanban, Takt

If you know anyone in the manufacturing industry, you’ve probably heard these terms. Yet, you might not fully understand the terminology. Each of these terms are part of the lean process, which simply means using fewer resources to create more value for customers.

  • Kaizen: A strategy where employees collaborate proactively to achieve continuous improvement.
  • Muda: Waste or anything in the process that does not add value for the customer.
  • Gemba: The philosophy of getting out of the office and spending time on the plant floor.
  • Heijunka: A form of production where small batches are manufactured by mixing product variants with the same process.
  • Kanban: The method of monitoring the flow of goods in the plant and to suppliers.
  • Takt: A pace of production that ensures alignment with demand.

Click here to see more lean production terms and definitions.

The Lean Process at Interstates

At Interstates, we’ve always tried to be stewards of our resources. However, we didn’t officially embark on our lean journey until about fifteen years ago. We took these basic principles, outlined by Japanese automobile manufacturers, and applied them to our business. Since that time, we’ve learned a great deal. Additionally, we found the process is not the same for every area of our company. Lean is about removing obstacles and reducing waste, regardless of the framework. For our construction team, that means moving to an agile model; being able to adjust to changes on projects and respond appropriately. For our controls team, it’s another world of agile development where short focused sprints allow for quicker development. And for engineering, it means focusing on standardization increasing speed.

Regardless of the industry or project you’re in, removing obstacles and reducing waste is a good thing. We haven’t been officially talking about lean as long as some companies. Yet, it has become part of who we are at Interstates. For us, lean is part of pursuing a better way.

What are your thoughts on the lean process?


This blog post was written by Andrew Roelfs.