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Unit 049  Lean Manufacturing – Credit Value 15 Level 5 [L/615/1517]

Lean manufacturing is a systematic approach to minimising waste in a manufacturing system, by focusing on the activities that add the most value through the eyes of the customer. The basis of lean manufacturing originated in the car industry and was developed by Toyota in Japan. Lean is now used extensively worldwide, in all types and size of organisation, to improve international competitiveness. It is therefore crucial for manufacturing engineers to be able to design and operate manufacturing systems that employ lean successfully.

The aim of this unit is to introduce students to the principles and processes of lean manufacturing, so that they can become an effective and committed  practitioner of lean in whatever industry sector they are employed in. To do this, the unit will explore the tools and techniques that are applied by organisations practicing lean.

The students will consider both the benefits and challenges of using lean manufacturing, and become sufficiently knowledgeable about the most important process tools and techniques to be able to operate and use them.

Among the topics included in this unit are: scoping and defining lean manufacturing, the benefits and challenges of adopting Lean, The Toyota Production System (TPS), common tools and techniques associated with lean manufacturing and process improvement, and the most appropriate improvement tool(s) to tackle a problem.

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to explain the common principles of lean manufacturing, compare the Toyota Production System with the now more widely adopted generic approaches to lean manufacturing, utilise a range of the process improvement tools used within lean manufacturing, and demonstrate effective communication skills in order to lead the process of continuous improvement across an organisation.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Examine the common principles of lean manufacturing and how the implementation of a lean production system contributes to business success.
  2. Evaluate the Toyota Production System against the now more widely adopted generic approaches to lean manufacturing.
  3. Specify a range of the process improvement tools used within lean manufacturing.
  4. Demonstrate effective communication skills in order to lead the process of continuous improvement across an organisation.

Recommended Resources


BICHENO, J. and HOLWEG, M. (2009) The Lean Toolbox. 4th Ed. PICSIE Books.
LIKER, J. and MEIER, D. (2006) The Toyota Way Fieldbook. McGraw-Hill.
WOMACK, J., JONES, D. and ROOS, D. (1990) The Machine That Changed the World. Free Press.


This unit links to the following related units:

  • Unit 48: Manufacturing Systems Engineering
  • Unit 50: Advanced Manufacturing Technology
  • Unit 51: Sustainability

Links to the following HN Engineering Courses

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