Applying Lean Concepts to Every Situation

Applying Lean Concepts to Every SituationThe lean manufacturing techniques which were made famous by Toyota, and used to improve the efficiency of thousands of other companies, are today being used for far more than just facility improvement. One great example of this is when Toyota in New York City decided that it wasn’t enough to simply donate money to local charities. Toyota decided that they would donate something far more valuable. Expertise and training.

Toyota lean experts visited several charities and helped to identify and eliminate money-draining waste, and improve the way they were running their charities. As anyone who works for a non-profit charity can attest, wasting time, money or resources is one of the worst things that can be done. It will not only reduce the amount of help that can be provided to those in need, but it can also cause donors to avoid giving to that charity in the future.

The following statistics were gathered during Toyota’s time helping three charities in New York City, and illustrate perfectly how lean strategies can have dramatic results:

  • At a soup kitchen in Harlem, Toyota’s engineers cut down the wait time for dinner to 18 minutes from as long as 90.
  • At a food pantry on Staten Island, they reduced the time people spent filling their bags to 6 minutes from 11.
  • And at a warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where volunteers were packing boxes of supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy, a dose of kaizen cut the time it took to pack one box to 11 seconds from 3 minutes.


These remarkable improvements at the charities will undoubtedly allow the people running these not-for-profits help countless people going forward. Imagine if all charities were to implement the lean concepts, and see such incredible benefits. How many more people could be fed, helped to find jobs or assisted in other ways throughout the world.

This one small example shows how the lean concepts aren’t just a better way of running a manufacturing facility, but can be applied to virtually any situation. The lean concepts are perfectly suited for service providers, like these charities, but why stop with a non-profit. Restaurants are essentially doing the same thing as soup kitchens or food pantries, though with some obvious differences. Many companies in the food services industry could certainly benefit from the lean concepts, as is proven by the examples of these charities.

Whether running a business, or trying to improve in other areas of life, the lean concepts should be used to find solutions to common problems and eliminate waste. Eliminating wasted time, energy and materials in life can have incredible benefits to companies, charities and the everyday life of individuals throughout the world.

While it has taken some time to become the standard for most manufacturing facilities, it seems that more and more companies in all types of industries are starting to see the benefits. With this will undoubtedly come individuals and charities adopting the standards as well. If this trend continues, the future may be a much more efficient place with far less waste, which will be good for everyone.

Resource: ProductivityPress – Toyota Takes Lean to the Bank… the Food Bank 30. 7 2013

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Antonio Ferraro

On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+