Select Page

This is the 10th in an ongoing series of columns with the following theme: “If there were ever a time to get serious about lean manufacturing, it’s now. The vision of doing more with less of everything may very well be the new reality in our upside-down, post-pandemic world.” In my June 6, 2022, column, (see link below), I recommended a goal that RAM Pros can readily grasp: “Lean Equipment Management (LEM) for the most critical, most penalizing equipment-driven processes.” And that, I will say again, begins with a business focus.

While the first four columns on Lean dealt with the common sense of Lean Manufacturing the following six focused on Lean Equipment Management (LEM) as the “equipment side of lean manufacturing.” Despite the theme of “manufacturing” in this series I have found that the principles of LEM are equally as beneficial in mining, oil & gas production, petrochemical, facility utilities, and public utilities. The benefits of deploying the interdependent set of LEM’s 7 Principles are most impressive, and sustainable. In prior columns I have highlighted some of those. In this final series installment, I want to summarize the types of results I’ve witnessed over the past several decades.


    • Increased equipment availability (less planned & unplanned downtime)
    • Improved yield: less waste, scrap, defects, rework
    • Higher throughput per hour, per shift
    • Faster (more efficient and effective) product changeovers
    • Faster (more efficient and effective) tooling/part changes
    • Faster (more efficient and effective) cleaning/sanitizing
    • Improved production-line flow
    • Less work in process (WIP) & safety stock.


    • Reduction (sometimes elimination) of emergency calls
    • Improved maintenance planning & scheduling
    • Reliable & repeatable preventive maintenance procedures
    • Improved equipment maintainability
    • Reduced maintenance requirements
    • Reduced spare parts inventory
    • Reduced maintenance travel time for work instructions, parts, and tools
    • Improved repair shop workflow & repair/overhaul efficiency
    • Improved communications among all stakeholders.


    • Reduced cost of goods sold
    • Reduced finished goods warehouse inventory & space
    • Reduced utility usage (compressed air, steam, water, electricity, etc.)
    • Fewer employees required to accomplish the same throughput
    • Improved/consistent order fulfillment on-time/in-full
    • Reduced lead time for order fulfillment
    • More opportunity for flexible & special customer orders
    • Improved supplier relations
    • Reduced manufacturing floor space
    • Higher levels of employee job satisfaction
    • Reduced employee turnover, improved recruitment.


    • Reduced equipment-related accidents & injuries
    • Reduced spills & emissions
    • Reduced hazards & risks
    • Reduced risk of cross contamination

Keep in mind that lean initiatives will ALWAYS struggle to achieve sustainable goals in an equipment-intensive operation unless, at a minimum, equipment reliability is addressed in ways that improve production process flow. I rarely use the word “always,” but in the case of lean, I insist on using that word here. Alas, some lean proponents have stated “the breakdown of machines must be fixed immediately” and, thus, have taken resources away from prevention and other equipment-reliability improvements to become, as they said, “more lean.”

Top management understanding and commitment to LEM is essential when embarking (or well underway) on their lean journey. As RAM Pros we can do our part by sharing the benefits of LEM to their goals. And remember, focus on improving the critical equipment rather that implementing a lean initiative.TRR

Click These Links To Read Prior Installments In This Series

“Is Lean Manufacturing Dead? Surely Not” (May 31, 2022)

“Lean Manufacturing: Where To Begin?” (June 6, 2022)

“Lean Manufacturing: The 7 Principles Of Lean Equipment Management” (June 13, 2022)

Lean Manufacturing: Leadership & Teamwork” (June 20, 2022)

“Lean Equipment Management: How To Put Its 7 Principles To Work (Part 1)” (June 27, 2022)

“Lean Equipment Management: How To Put Its 7 Principles To Work (Part 2)” (July 4, 2022)

“Lean Equipment Management: How To Put Its 7 Principles To Work (Part 3)” (July, 11, 2022)

“Lean Equipment Management: How To Put Its 7 Principles To Work (Part 4)” (July 18, 2022)

“Lean Equipment Management: How To Put Its 7 Principles To Work (Part 5)” (July 25, 2022)

Bob Williamson is a long-time contributor to the “people-side” of the world-class-maintenance and manufacturing body of knowledge across dozens of industry types. His vast background in maintenance, machine and tool design, and teaching has positioned his work with over 500 companies and plants, facilities, and equipment-oriented organizations. Contact him directly at 512-800-6031 or

Tagsreliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, asset management, skills development, on-the-job training, supply-chain issues, training and qualification, professional development