Lean manufacturing in India

Though many authors relate the term ‘lean’ to a specific business process like manufacturing or logistics, lean is basically a philosophy which believes in identification and elimination of wastage and can be applied to any process or system. The ‘lean manufacturing’ is a Japanese principle of manufacturing proposed by Taiichi Ohno of Toyota Motor Company during the 1990s. He is said to be the father of lean manufacturing. The ‘Lean Manufacturing System’ is also known as ‘Toyota Production System.’ Earlier it was introduced as a concept for the manufacturing industry but with time it has been applied well into other businesses as well. The objective lies in reducing wastage and maximizing value for customers.  The lean philosophy aims to reduce 7 types of waste: overproduction, wasting time, resources, transportation, processing, inventory and motion.

The Benefits of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a series of techniques that allow production of one unit at a time, at a formulated rate, while eliminating non-value adding wait time, queue time, and other kinds of delays. One of the significant features of lean manufacturing is that here the product is pulled as per the customers’ demand rather than pushing it on the basis of a planning system. It is about producing the product using the least amount of non-value adding activities that add time and cost to the manufacturing process thereby reducing the manufacturing lead time.  Lean manufacturing provides the ability to change the output rate every day according to the changes in customer demands. One of the main advantages of lean manufacturing is that it cannot be copied easily hence it helps companies to earn a sustainable competitive advantage. Other advantages offered by the lean system include shorter response time to customer demands, reduced inventory, reduction in working capital requirement, enhanced quality, improved productivity, better floor space utilization, reductions in scrap and rework, increased employee participation and empowering them to make quality decisions etc.

The Indian Scenario

The bad news is that in spite of all the above benefits, lean manufacturing in India is still in the infancy stage and the Indian firms are far away from enjoying its complete benefits. The awareness level of Indian firms on lean manufacturing is very low. The concept is largely adopted only by the big firms. One such example is Tata Motors which has created a success story by launching Nano implementing lean manufacturing. Lean philosophy helped to reduce the cost without compromising on size and comfort. Recently many apparel firms have also opted for lean manufacturing owing to the reduction in order-to-delivery time from European importers.

But Small and Medium-Sized Firms (SMEs) in India are still mostly unaware of lean principle. The lean principles cannot be implemented exactly the same in every industry and therefore the Indian firms need to chose proper tools and techniques according to the work culture, infrastructure availability and working conditions of the specific industry. Further, most Indian firms lack the human resources committee on acceptance of a new philosophy. The implementation of lean philosophy demands a motivated and trained work-force and committed top management which is not available in most Indian SMEs even today. The competition is very tough and lean principles can prove very beneficial for the Indian manufacturing firms to compete globally. It will help them to improve upon product quality and reduce the costs along with speeding up the delivery.


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Ankita Agarwal

Analyst at Project Guru
Ankita is working with the editorial board of Project Guru as a Research Analyst and Writer. With Masters in Commerce and Business Studies, Ankita learned much of what she knows about management through experience. She has previously worked in various financial institutions like Birla Global, HDFC Ltd. and Citi Financial. She is self-motivated and writes for the Knowledge Tank section of Project Guru. She has authored more than 80 articles so far in Human Resources Management, Strategic Management, Finance and Marketing. She likes to pen her thoughts about the latest issues gripping these areas across the world.

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  1. Good article, but Taiichi Ohno died in 1991, so he didn’t do much in the 1990s. His work at Toyota was from the 1950s to the 70s.

    • Thanks Mr. Baudin for taking out time to go through the article. Your suggestions are always welcomed.

    • hi sir,
      i am research scholar working on lean manufacturing from india. can i know the reasons:
      1. why the indian companies are not showing much interest to implement these methods?

      2.finding a workshop or a conference about lean manufacturing in india is also became an issue for the students working on it ?

      pleaase make a time to respond to my querie sir..
      waiting for your reply…
      thanking you sir

  2. this info is very helpful

  3. respected sir,
    my self parmar mukesh and i am P.G student and i am recently work on lean manufacturing system but i dont knw in India which companies adopted this system .if any idea about this so give me info.

  4. Recently sir I want to know the names of industries which are using lean manufacturing In india

  5. Mausam Lokhande

    Pls Name Me the companies using Lean Technology in india


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