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What is Toyota Lean Management?

Posted: March 28, 2023
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With increased customer demand and high competition in today’s market, it is more important than ever for businesses to hone in on developing processes to help their operations perform more efficiently, while ensuring consumer satisfaction.


So, how do you do it? A solution is known as Toyota Lean Management (TLM). Similar to the world renowned framework, Toyota Production System (TPS), which aims to reduce waste in the manufacturing process, TLM takes the concept of reducing waste one step further. TLM is a model based on helping organizations identify the key ‘pain points’ in their operation and work to eliminate waste in ALL areas – not limited to manufacturing.


At large, the goal of TLM is to provide the highest quality product at the lowest cost, and with the shortest lead time possible. It can be helpful to think of TLM as a house, with the roof representing business goals, and the remaining pieces of the structure demonstrating the elements needed to achieve the goals. In order to build an unwavering property, you will need four walls, a roof, pillars, and a solid foundation.


Ready to put this plan into action? Here is a list of the elements you will need to build a strong house -The Toyota Way. 

Lean Warehouse Operations with TLM and 5S

1. Lean Management Foundation

Before you can begin building a home, you need to start with a solid foundation. To ensure your process increases in efficiency and productivity, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper pieces so every individual in your organization understands the expectations of going lean.




A key component to Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing methodology is 5S. This system aims to improve the bottom line by creating workspaces that are free from clutter to increase productivity, safety, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. Here are the five steps, each of which represents a key step in building your strong TLM foundation:


  1. Sort
  2. Set in Order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain


Toyota Core Values


Have you ever heard the saying “there’s no ‘I’ in team?” Lean isn’t just about identifying where you can do better; it’s about instilling a culture of respect and development to create an environment that employees enjoy working in. This is because success isn’t achieved alone. Achieving business goals and a leaner manufacturing process requires dedication and teamwork from each individual on the team. Likewise, encouraging open communication, generosity, creativity, and practicality ignites individuals to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

2. Lean Management Pillars

Just as a house can’t stand without pillars, a manufacturing process can’t become better without the structure that keeps it standing.




The just-in-time (JIT) concept stresses the importance of delivering only the materials necessary in a timely manner. Employing a JIT inventory management strategy for your operation allows for waste reduction, and increased efficiency, which reduces inventory costs.




Jidoka, which is translated “automation with a human touch” means that once a problem occurs in the process, humans are empowered to stop production. This prevents defective products from being produced. Stalling production during these times decreases inventory costs as well as warehouse space.


Together, combining quality production with timely delivery allows your business to move closer to their goals.

3. Support Beams

Before finishing the roof, a house requires an additional beam to ensure the structure is sound. Kaizen, which translates to “continuous improvement,” stresses the idea that no process is perfect and challenges should be welcomed. Each day, improvements can be made to the process or product to create an operation that is more efficient than the day before. Doing so, can result in substantial cost and time savings as well as helping the organization, team members, and individuals increase their performance.

4. Roof (Eliminating Waste)

Building the roof is the final touch in completing the House of Toyota. Without a roof, the house is an incomplete structure that never reaches its full potential. Without establishing clear goals for your organization, your operation can never reach new heights, and you can miss out on many growth opportunities. Working toward your goals also means identifying anything that doesn’t add value to your business. The Japanese term, muda, refers to eliminating excess inventory, overproduction, and defects to reduce your operational costs. Additionally, your business can achieve a streamlined operation by focusing on your main reason for business: your customer. Placing the customer at the heart of your daily operations by providing products of the utmost quality, in the shortest amount of time, is critical to achieving a lean warehousing or logistics operation process as well as satisfied customers.


If you’re interested in learning more about Toyota Lean Management for your warehouse and how you can take your operation to the next level, reach out to your local Toyota Dealer for more information.



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