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The Value of Optimization and Waste Reduction Using TLM

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Posted: March 28, 2023
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Business leaders are always striving to learn how to do things better. The most well-run businesses continually ask themselves questions like, “How can I cut down on costs?”, “How can I improve productivity?”, “What can I do to increase profitability?” or “What can I do to reduce waste?”.


Often, when you think about these specific issues, you naturally start to consider the impact of significant changes such as implementing new technologies, adjusting your spending, or negotiating supplier prices. But what if you could improve all of these factors by instilling a new culture and philosophy in your workplace?

Using Toyota Lean Management for Waste Reduction

Toyota Lean Management or “TLM” is a philosophy born from the Toyota Production System that sets the foundation for long-term success by improving any process – from production time to organizing your warehouse. The philosophy is predicated on the ability to identify and eliminate waste by empowering associates and instilling a culture of continuous improvement.


So what’s so important about eliminating waste? Consider the below scenario to help better understand how waste reduction and adopting TLM can help position your business for long-term success:

Example Scenario – Identifying Waste

You’re running a lemonade stand and have hired an employee to run the operation while you handle the management and financials. One day, you notice that the business is losing money. Rather than raising the price of the lemonade, you ask your employee about the issues they are seeing. Here is what they report:


  1. The extra cups are stocked far away, and it takes a long time to replenish them.
  2. There are too many lemons stocked, so they often expire before use.
  3. The lemon squeezer gets lost occasionally.
  4. The ice machine produces ice too slowly.
  5. The lemonade is made in huge batches, which are difficult to keep fresh and cold.
  6. Removing all seeds from the lemonade requires it to be strained multiple times.
  7. Some of the lemons have quality issues and can’t be used.
  8. The employee has never worked a cash register before.


Each of these examples is a different type of waste that is identified by TLM. Here is a quick breakdown of each type of waste as it applies to this scenario:

Example Scenario – Understanding Importance

  1. Transportation: The extra time spent retrieving cups could be better spent on value add activities.
  2. Inventory: Improper inventory amounts leads to wasted product and lower margins.
  3. Motion: Wasted time spent locating tools reduces productivity and ability to serve customers.
  4. Waiting: Time spent waiting on a process hurts your ability for continuous flow and fast service.
  5. Overproduction: Producing too much product creates more work and wasted inventory.
  6. Over-processing: Performing more work than necessary impairs your workflow.
  7. Defects: Inconsistent process quality causes extra work and reduced margins.
  8. Skills: Lack of expertise limits the ability to work and serve customers effectively.


As you can see, even a process as simple as selling lemonade can have an incredibly significant amount of waste. And when resolved using TLM, each waste reduction opportunity provides huge dividends when it comes to controlling your costs, improving your efficiency, and enhancing the workplace environment for improved employee morale.


Once you start leveraging the principles of TLM, you’ll even notice ways you can reduce waste in any process in your life – from doing the dishes to running a charity event.


If you’d like to learn more about Toyota Lean Management and how to start your own lean journey, please be sure to reach out to your local, authorized Toyota forklift dealer.

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