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Overproduction is one of the seven wastes in Lean. It is the act of making a product or performing a service before the downstream customer asks for it. Overproduction is one of the leading causes of excess inventory.

Overproduction is prevalent in push systems where upstream processes build according to a schedule, and then send the product out regardless of whether their customer is ready for it. Lean deals with overproduction by creating pull systems, where products are only built when the downstream customer asks for them.

One of the barriers to pull, and hence a driver of overproduction, is long setup time, which increases batch size. Lean deals with this form of overproduction waste through SMED (or single minute exchange of dies).

Taiichi Ohno, the father of modern Lean, believed that overproduction was the worst form of waste, creating or hiding all the other forms.

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  • mohamedmahmoudmohamedsalah says:

    i’d like to know precisely what are the lean tools?
    i’ve been browsed on most lean sites but observed each site has lean tools differs the other, please is there standards for lean , waiting for your reply
    mohamed salah

    • Jeff Hajek says:


      I’ve got a page listing the most common of the Lean tools here: http://www.velaction.com/lean-tools/.

      There is really no ‘official’ Lean governing body. Lean.org is closely tied to Womack and Shook, two early Lean advocates in the US. Shingoprize.org gives awards based on operational excellence, and used many Lean principles in its criteria. I like velaction.com a lot–they seem to really know what they are talking about…(By the way, I’ll be starting to post some Lean training package for sale starting in a week or so)

      There are also a few companies that do Lean well. Toyota is an obvious one. Danaher is another company with a good Lean business system.

      You’ve hit on one of the big challenges of Lean–there are a lot of opinions on it out there, many of them contradictory. I’d just find a source that you like that matches your company’s culture, and start there. Just make sure there is a standard within your company.

      Good luck!
      Jeff Hajek

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