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Production Management: The tools Lean Management and Shop Floor Management (SFM)

Published: · Last updated: · 3 min reading time

Proper production management is closely linked to lean production. Optimal use of resources is the focus here. Lean manufacturing and lean management – Lean Management – help to drastically reduce costs. This ultimately leads to an improvement in competitiveness on the market.

Lean Production and Lean Management in the Company

Lean Production and Lean Management originate from Japan. The Toyota production system conquered the world in the 80s. The aim is to achieve production without waste – accurate, efficient, without errors, and as exact as possible, an ideal that cannot be achieved in reality. That is why continuous improvement is strived for, in the certainty that there is still room for improvement.
Lean production has given rise to Lean Management, which covers the entire value-added chain in the sense of continuous process optimization. It is implemented according to five principles:

  • The customer is at the center
    At the right time, at the right place, to get the desired product, in best quality at a reasonable price.
  • Recognizing the value stream
    Analyze all activities required to manufacture the product and align the production system to this value stream
  • The flow principle
    Looking at the production process from the product. Avoid interruptions of the value stream.
  • The Pull Principle
    The starting point is the customer’s order. If the value stream works according to the flow principle, there is ideally no storage and no waiting times. Each part is already in the right place.
  • Continuous improvement process (CIP)
    In the continuous improvement process, employees constantly question the procedures and contribute ideas; they have everything in view in the workshop


Problems in implementation can be traditional thinking and working structures, but also a lack of team spirit or role problems of managers, to name just a few factors. However, the trend of recent years shows that lean concepts work in not only the automotive industry but also in other sectors.

Shop Floor Management (SFM) – what is covered by it?

Shop Floor Management is derived from the “shop floor” – workshop or production facility – and management, leadership, or direction of a company. SFM is a management tool for optimizing production.
Shop Floor Management serves to optimize daily work in administration and production continuously. Shop Floor Management is not only a management control instrument, and it primarily improves communication between employees and managers. Shop Floor Management is essentially based on the following points:

  • Management – on-site in production
  • Communication – at eye level with the employees
  • Visualization – show production status utilizing transparent key figures
  • Structured problem solving – employees solve problems independently
  • Continuous improvement process (CIP) – based on a Lean culture

In shop floor management, managers develop a positive error culture and refrain from assigning blame, because it is possible to learn from mistakes. The boss is back with the employees in production. He takes on the tasks of coach and mentor and translates the visionary goals of the company management into concrete guidelines – in terms of time and content.
Communication is necessary to avoid misunderstandings. It takes place on the spot. Here the executive receives first-hand information.
In shop floor management, key figures are on the management board – the current status of production is visible to all employees. The goal of the team is clearly defined; actual-target deviations are recognizable and comprehensible. Running processes, possible problems, as well as planned measures for improvement, can also be found on the board.
Employees approach problem solutions independently, regardless of their level of education. Shop Floor Management promotes a continuous learning process.
The continuous improvement process (CIP) of Lean Management forms an essential basis for the shop floor management method. To implement Lean Management, the way of thinking of employees and managers must change.

Shop Floor Management brings numerous advantages to your company. If you are planning to make your business fit for the future, it is advisable to bring on board a professional consultant who has enough experience to overcome any resistance with persuasive power.