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What does a Lean Manufacturing Consultant do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A lean manufacturing consultant must be well versed in all areas of the lean manufacturing process, the practice of using manufacturing resources only to produce products or services of value to a company's customers. This concept is based on the idea that any work that does not directly add value to a product or service is wasteful, and such inefficiencies should be eliminated from the process. The process is largely credited to the Toyota Production System (TPS), and articulated in the 1990s. A consultant must have several years experience in the integration of these concepts into the manufacturing processes. The ability to explain and clearly demonstrate these systems and processes is crucial to this position.

The scope responsibilities for a lean manufacturing consultant may be varied and extensive. He often advises key decision makers in large corporations as well as in non-profit organizations and groundbreaking, rapidly expanding start-up ventures worldwide. The position requires a dedication to helping customers and clients dramatically improve their fiscal and professional performances in ways that will withstand time and adverse economic conditions.

The ideal candidate for the position of lean manufacturing consultant will give his clients a competitive lead in the manufacturing industry. This will be accomplished through the development and implementation of efficiencies in production processes. It may require everyone in the areas of production and manufacturing to learn new approaches and develop previously untapped skills and talents.

As a lean manufacturing consultant, the ideal candidate will serve as an engineering or manufacturing expert on a select team of specialists dedicated to aiding clients in their quest to achieve high levels of performance. The position requires creative and innovative approaches to analysis and design through the implementation of lean manufacturing methods. Ideally, each client will experience plateaus of success through approaches and solutions specially designed for their products, production environments, and customers.

The ability to adapt lean manufacturing concepts for a highly diverse clientele is vital to the success of a lean manufacturing consultant. The organizations can vary greatly in size, client bases, and product offerings. This diversity may require a lean manufacturing consultant to develop creative strategies and provide unique answers and solutions for operational challenges. These solutions may require drastic changes in the design and execution of the production system that involve revamping operations from the shop floor through processing and information and material flows.

Experience in manufacturing, engineering, or production is essential for success as a lean manufacturing consultant. The ability to confidently lead and communicate with employees at various levels is important as production changes are normally implemented throughout the manufacturing operations. A degree in technical, organizational, production, or business management fields is usually preferred. Multi-cultural, multi-level, and multi-ethnic communication skills are often valued attributes.

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