Food Production: Using Lean Manufacturing Principles

The main objective of the factories was to achieve high economic growth. The improvement in productivity has become need of food industry to take the competitive advantage of global market. The big problem or challenge to food industry is identifying the wastes and meet the market price by maintaining a good profit. The only solution is to reduce total production cost. Lean manufacturing is systematic approach to identify and eliminate the waste through continues improvements. This paper discusses how the production principles of lean manufacturing can be applied in food production to increased production efficiency and improvement productivity and quality. This paper first presents the lean concept and presents the implementation of lean manufacturing system on some organization.

Three main factors that food production factories fear, poor and tacky quality, increase of production cost, increase in lead time. Production improvements should be based on the improvements of processes as well as operation. Problems can appear in any of the basic elements that constitute the production area. (Materials, workers, machines and tools, energy, methods, product). So I focus on lean manufacturing the program can help to improve in this area.

Problem Statement

Why and how companies should implement lean manufacturing in food production ?

1.3 Importance of the study

The main aim of the study is to present the main idea of the Lean manufacturing system, and the benefit of applying it in the field of food production, and identifying the kinds of wastes in production process, and the effect of the Lean manufacturing on food production and presenting some examples of successful companies that implemented the Lean manufacturing.

1.4 Research Questions

When organizations implement lean manufacturing, it is more likely to make positive on food production?

1.5 Research Approach

The data collected in this research was stemmed from previous published articles. And present a successful example from companies will be achieved good results after implement lean manufacturing program. The main target of this paper is to be applied as guideline to food production companies in Egypt.

II. Literature Review:

2.1 History of Lean Manufacturing.

Many of the concepts in LM or lean production originate from the Toyota Production System (TPS) and have been implemented progressively throughout Toyota’s operations starting in the 1950’s. In 1980’s Toyota had increasingly become famous for the efficiency with which it had implemented Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing systems. Now, Toyota is often considered one of the most efficacious and influential manufacturing companies in the world and the company that put the standard for best practices in LM. LM has increasingly been applied by leading manufacturing companies throughout the world, lead by the major automobile manufactures and their equipment suppliers. Lean Manufacturing is becoming an increasingly significant topic for manufacturing companies in developed countries as they try to find procedure to compete more effectively versus competition from Asia.

2.2 Lean Manufacturing.

Lean Manufacturing is a set of tools and methodologies that aims for the continuous elimination of all waste in the production process. The main benefits of this are lower production costs; increased output and minimum production lead times.

Some of the goals include:

Utilization of equipment and area

Use equipment and manufacturing area more efficiently by eradicating bottlenecks and maximizing the rate of production though existing equipment, while reducing machine downtime.

Defects and wastes

Reduce defects and unnecessary physical wastage, including surplus use of raw material inputs, preventable defects, and costs associated with reprocessing defective items and dispensable product characteristics which are not required by customers.


Have the ability to produce a more elastic range of products with minimum changeover costs and changeover time.

Labor productivity

Improve labor productivity, both by reducing the inactive time of workers and ensuring that when workers are working, they are using their effort as productively as possible


Insofar as reduced cycle times, increased labor productivity and removal of bottlenecks and machine downtime can be completed, companies can generally significantly increase output from their existing facilities.

Inventory levels

Minimize inventory levels at all steps of production, particularly works-in-progress between production steps. Lower inventories also mean lower working capital requirements.

Cycle Times

Reduce manufacturing lead times and production cycle times by reducing waiting times between processing stages, as well as process preparation times and product.

Most of these benefits lead to lower unit production costs – for example, more effective use of equipment and space leads to lower depreciation costs per unit produced, more effective use of labor results in lower labor costs per unit produced and lower defects lead to lower cost of goods sold.

2.3 The Five Lean Principles

The critical beginning point when changing a traditional production line into a Lean process is the determination of value from the customers’ points of view, which is significant as the goal of the Lean process is a line where every activity adds a specified customer value to the product. Having identified the value of products, the second step is to identify and map the value stream in the production line. Value stream mapping refers to the mapping of a product’s route and is explained in more detail further. The third principle is the connection of value creating activities in a continuous flow process. Every dilemma or ‘batch and queue’ process must be avoided to obtain an uninterrupted flow throughout the production. The ‘ideal’ production Flow is drawn on a map, and existing procedures changed and equipment relocated to reflect this. The fourth principle is not to produce anything ‘upstream’ unless it is needed ‘downstream. The principle is in contrast to batch and queue procedures, as seen in mass production, and aims to reduce the amount of resources locked up in inventories. It implies that production must be just-in-time, both internally between processes and externally when delivering products to the End-user. The fifth principle is about pursuing perfection through a continuous improvement. This is not only about creating a product that the customer requires with a minimum of defects, but also includes the perfection of every action in connection with the production process. It involves all employees as they know procedures the most and are closest to make suggestions for improvement. The involvement of everyone in the continuous improvement is what makes Lean a philosophy – improving working processes is integrated in job routines.

(Womack & Jones 2003; Bicheno 2004).

2.5 The kind of waste in food production:


Producing elements for which there are no client requirements. The Lean principle is to use a pull system, or producing goods just as clients order them. Service organizations operate this way by their very nature. Industrialization organizations, furthermore, have historically operated by a Push System, building products to stock, without firm customer orders. Anything produced beyond the customer demand (safety stocks, work-in-process inventories, etc.) ties up valuable labor and material resources and hence is a waste.


Time during production (service) when no value is added to product (service). This includes waiting for material, information, equipment, tools, stock-outs, lot processing delays, equipment downtime, capacity bottlenecks, etc. The Lean principle is to use a just-in-time (JIT) system- not too soon, not too late.

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Unnecessary moving and handling of parts. This includes transporting work-in-process long distances, trucking to and from an off-site storage facility. Lean demands that the material be shipped directly from the vendor to the location in the assembly line where it will be used. Material should be delivered to its point of use.


Unnecessary processing or procedures than necessary to meet customer demand. Common examples multiple inspecting. Statistical process control techniques can be used to eliminate or minimize the amount of inspection required. Value Stream Mapping is another lean tool that can be used for this purpose also. This tool is frequently used to help identify non-valued-added steps in the process (for both manufacturers and service organizations).

Excess Inventory

Excess raw material, or finished goods. Inventory beyond that needed to meet customer demands negatively impacts cash flow and uses valuable floor space.


Scrap, rework, replacement production, and inspection. Production defects and service errors waste resources in four ways. First, materials are consumed. Second, the labor used to produce the part (or provide the service) the first time cannot be recovered. Third, labor is required to rework the product (or redo the service). Fourth, labor is required to address any forthcoming customer complaints. Total Quality Management (TQM) is one of the lean tools that can be used to for reducing defects.

Excess Motion

Unnecessary motion of people or equipment that adds to value to product (service). This is caused by poor workflow, poor layout, housekeeping, and inconsistent or undocumented work methods. Value Stream Mapping is also used to identify this type of waste. Tools like 5S, comfortable workspace design can be used to eliminate this waste.

Underutilized People

Underutilization of mental, creative, and physical skills and abilities of employees of the organization. Some of the more common causes for this waste include – organizational culture, inadequate hiring practices, poor or non-existent training, and high employee turnover.

2.6 The Policy to reduce the waste

Policy to reduce waste consists of several systems

1- Reduced Set up Time

It reduced the time required to adjust the machines to produce a different product. A long time in the control of the machine means the need to produce large quantities of the same product and thus prevents us from reducing the size of the order, which in turn prevents us from inventory reduction and prevents us from the production process of withdrawing. Permission must be reduced machine set time dramatically.

2- Small Lot size

Which is the size of the order per batch per production? If the size of each run command (order) significant meaning that we will store a lot of semi-finished materials, which do not want to do because we want to reduce inventory in general

3- Reduced Work in Process

An inventory of the materials or parts that have passed the initial stage of production and did not pass to the latter. Reduce inventory this is essential in the philosophy of the policy of reducing losses because of its impact on the coverage of production problems and because it is a money investor.

4- Policy pull Production

it means that production on the basis of need for the next stage of production and not on the basis of a specific production plan. The first production engineering stage not only produces and need permission from the production stage next and so on until the end of the production line. There is stacked production between stages. This is also known as Kanban card or card.

5- Quality Control Circles

It is a work teams of operators and technicians are studying and solving quality problems and operation and maintenance. These rings are necessary to study the problems and uprooted from their roots and to involve all levels of work in solving problems. Quality control loops is a continuous development of methods Continuous Improvement, which is one of the basics of the Toyota system.

6- Total Productive Maintenance

They maintenance system leads to increased availability of equipment and reduce breakdowns. This system is necessary to be able to reduce inventory of semi-finished materials and the implementation of the policy to withdraw production. Must be reduced dramatically sudden failure to implement these policies.

7- Group Technology

It is a method designed to manufacture similar products in one place to reduce the transport time and wait in what is known as the cell manufacturing Cells. This method helps to reduce transfer times material from one place to another and make each group of operators responsible for different stages of the production for the same product that they have a kind of full responsibility for the product.

8- Multi Task Employees

Meaning that the worker trained to do several tasks instead of one task. This method gives the flexibility to change the functions of working when needed. Note that this system is designed to reach the speed of response to customer requirements and thus there must be flexibility in employment as well so that you can change the functions of Group according to the requirements of the market. This method has a lot to do with technology group, where can one player that is running several machines.

9- Production leveling:

Toyota system is designed to reduce the variables and produce small amounts of each product every day, so there is no need to produce large quantities of a product in one day. Reduce the change helps us not to maintain a large stock and makes the production process is running smoothly and regularity without significant changes.

10- Just In Time Purchasing

it means of access to raw materials and production supplies when you need them quickly. This procurement policy is needed to reduce inventory and production development and reduce defects in products. To reach that there is a lot of things are applied, such as reducing the number of suppliers and to cooperate with them and compel them specific things in the style of their work.

11- Maintain a work environment 5S:

It means arrange and organize and clean workplace and work tools so that you have access to the tools and information is accessible, fast and the site is a good place to work and safe at the same time. This method is called 5S relative to the Japanese words that mean organize and arrange and clean workplace.

12- Total Quality Control:

There is a correlation between policies to reduce waste and total quality management both supports the other. To reach to pull production policy has to be to reach high levels of quality. Therefore, Toyota and Japanese companies have applied TQM or total quality control of the most important has been applied is the technical checks parts produced by himself in the sense that the product is scanned during each stage production by the operators themselves. It is the powers of the workers off the production line in the event of a quality problem.

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2.6.1 The Benefits of reducing the waste

Improved performance indicators such as:

• reduce losses to a great extent

• high product quality (in terms of compliance with specifications) any low percentage of defective products

• Reduced time progress (which is the time to meet manufacturing orders)

• high inventory turnover rate

• very high flexibility to change production from one product to another

• lower the sudden failure of equipment

• low additional cost Overhead cost

• increase production capacity

• high accuracy to meet the supply orders on time for supply

• the speed of response to changing market

• improvement of financial indicators in the long term, including the profitability

• Improved morale of workers

2.7Quality in Lean Manufacturing

2.7.1. Reducing the Defect-Detection Time Gap

The most important improvement that is made by a move from final inspections to successive checks to self checks is in the reduction of the time gap between creation of a defect and its detection. Figure 1 show how this time gap shrinks as one progresses towards self inspection





Figure 1: the time lag includes all operations that happen

In Figure 1, the time lag includes all operations that happen to the part after the defect

Has been made and before the defect will be detected (more defective parts can be made

During this time if the defect is due to a broken machine tool, improper machining method,

Or other problems that do not create simply one isolated defect).



Figure 2: the time gap shrinks

In Figure 2 the time gap shrinks to the length of time before the operator of the next

Machine handles the part. In a job shop, this may be a significant quantity of time and if

Parts are produced in batches; often the entire batch may have the same defect. However,

In cellular manufacturing this time lag is small, since the queue is only one unit.



Figure 3: the time lag has shrunk down

In Figure 3 the time lag has shrunk down to the amount of time that the operator spends

On the given operation before he or she checks the part. Self-inspection produces visibility of the problem after the first defective part is made (if it is detectable). Catching defective parts prevents adding more value to parts that will be scrapped or reworked later. Clearly this reduction in time lag can lead to: quicker and easier detection of what the problem is that is causing the defect, reduction in wasted time in the form of value added to scrapped parts, and wasted time spent assembling a part that will have to be disassembled and then reassembled. Overall, quicker elimination of defect causing problems will result in a reduction of the number and cost of bad quality parts.

2.8 Productivity in lean manufacturing

2.8.1 Introduction

The lean manufacturing focus on 20 key’s I will present only key number 6 method improvement (Productivity)

Figure 4 Relationship Diagram20 Key’s

2.8.2 Definition

Productivity is about how well resources are used. The other area of general consensus is that productivity is about the relation between output and input in any process producing goods or services.

Productivity can be calculated as output divided by input

P = O/I

Where P = Productivity , O = Output and I = Input

Output can be measured in different way tones, Kilograms or even output defined as standard minutes or hours

2.8.3 The components of productivity

Productivity basically has two components:



Utilization is about whether the resources available are actually used in producing the product or service. That is a machine might be available but if no product is scheduled to be produced then it is not utilized , or if product is scheduled to be produced for only 85% of the available time then utilization is 85% Efficiency . On the other hand, is about how well the resources are used while it is being utilized.

The formula for productivity is then:

Productivity = Efficiency X Utilization

This formula can be expanded:

Productivity = Output / Available hours, that is how much did we produce during the time that the resources were available

Efficiency = Output / Hours worked, that is how much did we produce during the time that the resources were actually operating.

Utilization = Hours worked / Hours available, that is for what percentage of time did we actually utilize the resources.

2.8.4 People. Plant- and process – related issues impacting on productivity

It is important to understand what issues typically impact on productivity as you can then look for the causes to why productivity is not at the level it should be.

If productivity is not at the target level it can be explained in terms of the two components of efficiency and utilization that it can be either an efficiency loss or none utilizes time. This can be because of people, plant or process related issues.

The following summary show typical examples of issues impaction on productivity.

Efficiency loss:


Work method

Work rate

Effort ( motivation issues )


Quality of work

Plant / Process

Speed ,idling ,minor stoppages

Quality of product

Non – Utilized time


Plant / process

Market demand

Work rate



Table 2 issues impaction on productivity

2.8.5 Productivity Improvement an Integrated Approach

Productivity improvement cannot be achieved by only implementing Kaizen operation.

Figure 5 Productivity Improvement: An Integrated Approach

Productivity increase and excellent quality can be achieved at the same time.

2.8.6 Implementing key 6

Implementing kaizen of operation requires the effective use of the CAPDo cycle. The CAPDo cycle is a simple management system for continuous improvement. One a plane for implementation has been drawn up, the actual training needs must be scheduled it is important to check regularly whether training targets have been met, and if not, the reason for this must be analyzed. Problem identified can then become actions for the next CAPDo cycle.

Figure 6 CAPDo Cycle


Company and every department against the map.

Benchmark the company using key 6 map

Check current productivity performance


Identify process for improvement.

The benchmark score.

Productivity performance to identify priority processes to focus on.


Use the five – steps methodology for process improvement.

Put goals for all process

Use the five steps methodology for process improvement.

Plan the improvement using 20 keys plan.


Implementing the plan

Regular feedback from goals on progress

Implement the plan for achieving the target.


Restart the cycle through

Reviewing the results of the plan on monthly basis

Reviewing key progress with the map at least every six months

Update skills matrix


Cycle of CAPDo improvement and celebrate success.

2.9 Actual Cases

2.9.1 Meal production in Glostrup Hospital’s main kitchen, Denmark.

The main hypothesis of this paper is that where any implement LM it is more likely to make positive on food production so I present lean principles can applied in meal production to increase the efficiency without reducing the quality of meal prepared. All lean principles and tools may not be equally applicable in food production, but it is important to consider this aspect when discussing the implementation of lean in meal production. Glostrup Hospital is situated in the greater Copenhagen area in Denmark. The central Kitchen is situated inside the Hospital grounds in a separate building, and every day, meals for approximately 1000 patients are produced and distributed from the kitchen. In 2005, the hospital’s management took the decision that all services should be Lean, and to cut the costs of meal production, the kitchen was forced to replace cook-serve with cook-chill production and reduce the number of foodservice employees from 71 to 54. This brought about a need to review and optimize the production procedures to maintain both output quantity and quality. The change of production system to cook-chill also had an impact on the end-product quality as recipes and production procedures needed adjustments. Therefore, the systematic evaluation and improvement of product quality was given a high priority in the kitchen. The internal working environment in the kitchen was important to the manager as she insisted on maintaining this as a high priority during and after the rationalization process, and that increased efficiency of production processes was obtained by the optimization of procedures and not by making the staff work faster. Because of these reservations, the implementation of Lean was expected to result in both increased efficiency of processes and improved product quality while ensuring a pleasant working environment for the remaining employees. The implementation of Lean in the kitchen began shortly after the change to cook-chill processing and before procedures became routine. The kitchen produces most components of the meals themselves including breads, soups and processed vegetables. Previously with cook-serve production, there were separate production lines for hot meal components, vegetables, baked products, desserts and cold products for these meals, all items were prepared, processed and kept warm until service. Initially, when changing to cook-chill production, the separation of production according to meal was maintained with processed meal components being assembled into meals, packed and stored for up to 3 days before final distribution to hospital wards. The packaging was standardised in two, five or seven portions per pack, and the wards received the portion sizes equal to or the closest number above their actual orders. This practice of standardizing packaging was accepted by the management as a pragmatic practice of cook-chill production. The implementation of cook-chill production procedures called for a systematic evaluation of product quality. A graph on display in the production facility showing the daily number of comments on food quality was chosen as an expression of customer satisfaction with product quality. The number of complaints for each meal component, based on feedback received from wards and patients, was totaled and each day marked on the chart. This procedure was chosen as a way to ensure communication of customer product satisfaction to all employees. An internal quality control system was developed to reflect the need for adjusting recipes to improve meal quality after the change from cook serve to cook-chill production. It consisted of a three-color gradation of product acceptability where red refers to ‘not acceptable’; yellow, ‘acceptable’; and green, ‘good’. The testing of product quality was performed internally in the kitchen, and the products had to obtain a yellow to pass. This system was developed to visualize the progress of adjusting existing procedures to cook-chill production. As a result of the implementation the hospital realized some quick financial wins. Revenue increased 19%, eliminate wastes meals from 10% to 5% (England al.2009).

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2.9.2 Implementing 20 keys in modern bakeries company (Rich Bake), Egypt.

In 2008 modern bakeries company management took the decision that some production process should be lean. The company decided implement 10 key’s from 20 keys

Key1 cleaning & organizing to make work easy.

Key 2 Rationalizing the system / goal Alignment.

Key 3 Small Group Activities.

Key 5 Quick Changeover Technology.

Key 6 Kaizen of operation.

Key 9 Maintaining Machines & Equipment.

Key 10 Workplace Discipline.

Key 11 Quality Assurance.

Key 15 Skill Versatility and cross Training.

Key 19 Conserving Energy and Materials.

Table 3 present the 20key, s evaluation before and after implementing lean on modern bakeries company through 2 years.


Base Line Level 2008
































Table 3: 20 key’s evaluation

Eliminate wastes from 3% to 1.8%.

Increase productivity from 16KG Man / Hour to 18.5 Kg Man /Hour.

2.12 The enormous obstacles for food production in terms of adopting

LM approaches to improvement.

There is some problems face the food production companies to implementing lean manufacturing, generally as follows.

Lack of a clear vision of the future

Lack of patience and follow.

Lack of persistent and challenge in leadership.

Failure to link the processes in key 6 kaizen operation with normal work.

Failure to perceive that lean is a viable strategy to help achieve competitive advantage.

Lack of constant visibility by management.

Failure of management to take a whole systems view of business and to see the connections between all processes.

Persistent focus only on demanding results without a balance focus improving the processes that achieve the results.

III- Research Methodology

3.1 Research Objectives

The main aim of the study is to present the main idea of the Lean manufacturing system, and the benefit of applying it in the field of food production, and identifying the kinds of wastes in production process, and the effect of the Lean manufacturing on food production and presenting some examples of successful companies that implemented the Lean manufacturing.

3.2 Conceptual Framework

Figure 7: LM Conceptual Framework

3.3 Research Question and Hypotheses

3.3.1 Research Questions

Why and how companies should implement lean manufacturing in food production?

3.3.2 Research Hypotheses

When organizations implement lean manufacturing, it is more likely to make positive on food production?

3.3.3 Independent

Cost reduction, waste rate, revenue gains

3.3.4 Dependent

Return on investment, profit in organization.

IV Conclusion and Recommendation


Through the study found that there is a potential for the application of lean manufacturing system in food production and that explained by viewing experience hospital central kitchen in Denmark and experience modern bakeries company in Egypt, where the application of lean manufacturing system to gain increased efficiency ,quality, and productivity through the application of tools for lean manufacturing .

. Easy to implementing lean manufacturing in big company that have systems for examples ISO9001, 2200, HACCP

Easy to implementing lean manufacturing in small company but focus only 3 or 4 principles in the first stage .

4.2 Recommendation

To get the benefits from this program (lean manufacturing), there are many lessons from the previous companies’ experiences. And according to my research objectives. Which I achieved all of it, and answered the research question. I finally present this experience to be a guide for food production companies in Egypt to achieve a good result (profit, productivity, efficiency, and quality) through implement this system.

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