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The application of LEAN, as a methodology of operational excellence, can give us a huge competitive advantage in packaging. Let's see how it can help us:

When we talk about LEAN we are talking about the elimination of Muda (Japanese word for waste, which in our language sounds very negative). What we want to say is that we must get rid of everything that does not add value to us and our clients either.

It can be applied to operational concepts, that is, processes, operations and / or controls that we have internalized in our day to day and that we have not considered if they are really necessary or they are because "we have always done it that way", a great barrier to continual improvement.

It can also be applied to the concept of packaging, and so it has a lot to do with sustainability, circular economy and packaging optimization. We always have to ask ourselves the same question: Does all the packaging that I use really add value to the packaged product? or on the contrary I am over-packaging, using an excess of packaging material or even an unsuitable material. The LEAN methodology will help us to solve the doubts that we have raised through the simplicity of action and ensuring that it provides the maximum value for our company.

LEAN has its origin in Japan, specifically in the Toyota Production System that introduced concepts that have changed the automotive industry first and then the rest of industries and organizations: Just in Time, Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen, 5S ... Later it was adopted by many companies in the United States from the 80s and it was there that it received the name LEAN.

For the LEAN methodology, it is essential to move around the Gemba (another Japanese word that we can translate as the playing field or place where things happen) and listen to those who are there. It is in the Gemba that opportunities for improvement can be observed, which we will write down and transform into tangible improvement actions. Also, in the Gemba is where you see if we comply with the procedures, you can verify the use and condition of mechanical equipment and personal relationships, whether between employees or between departments.

Historically it has been used in the packaging sector, especially in printing, by many companies in the United States and from there it reached Europe. Let's see where we can apply it:

Where can Lean be applied in packaging:

  • Transport: Reduction of plant movements before dispatch.
  • Inventory: Reduction of stocks: Improves space and less investment associated with stored materials.
  • Process flow: Reducing the number of operations in the process and leaving only the necessary operations.
  • Waiting time: Reduction of waiting times. Bottlenecks must be reduced.
  • Over-Process: Closely related to defects among others. It applies to reprocessing and any type of control that exists in the process. This translates into an improvement in Lead Time.
  • Over-Production: Producing too much generates unnecessary stocks. You have to produce the right thing adapted to the demand.
  • Defect reduction: Defect reduction is essential to reduce “non-quality” costs and improve lead time.


The principles of Lean for packaging:

  • Standardization: Make processes predictable. Define, communicate, follow and improve standards.
  • CONWIP (constant work in progress): The processes must be chained. We must avoid intermediate stops. Each process must follow the previous one to have a continuous flow.
  • One Piece Flow: When a product runs out, it immediately moves to the next station. In this way we reduce lead time and waiting time.
  • Poka-Yoke: Safe mode (or reduction of errors). The target is to eliminate human errors. Prevent defects, minimize process control.
  • Visual Management: Communicate with signs instead of texts. Improves process information and knowledge of the work environment.


As has been seen, LEAN can help packaging companies to be much more efficient and at RepaQ we have the best LEAN and packaging experts to help you.