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Application Of Lean Concepts To The Teaching Of Lean Systems

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma in Manufacturing Education 2

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.208.1 - 13.208.16



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Paper Authors


Arlie Hall University of Kentucky

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Dr. Arlie Hall (B.S.E.E. and Ed.D.) is a faculty with the University of Kentucky Center for Manufacturing, and former manager of the Lean Systems Program at the university. After working at IBM for 26 years, Dr. Hall joined the University of Kentucky in 1994 and partnered with Toyota as the primary architect of the university’s lean manufacturing curriculum. He has taught lean manufacturing to undergraduate and graduate students, and to industry participants from around the world.

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Lawrence Holloway University of Kentucky

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Dr. Larry Holloway is the TVA Endowed Professor of Electrical Engineering and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Kentucky. He was former Director of the University of Kentucky Center for Manufacturing. Dr. Holloway was an original member of the University of Kentucky Lean Manufacturing program, and has taught students and industry personnel in lean manufacturing since 1994.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Application of Lean Concepts to the Teaching of Lean Manufacturing

1. Introduction

Lean manufacturing organizations, such as Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), are often described through their outward attributes: just-in-time inventory control, kaizen, emphasis on quality-at-the-source, empowered workers and teams, standardized work, etc. We maintain that these visible characteristics of Lean organizations are intended to support the organization as a continuous learning organization. The systems associated with lean are implemented to enhance the learning of the individuals and the organization itself in a drive for continuous improvement. When successfully implemented, these systems establish a problem-solving culture within the organization, where teams and groups continuously learn, adapt, and improve on a daily basis.

In teaching Lean manufacturing in a university setting, educators must teach the content (tools, techniques, and structures) of Lean. Educators should also teach about the culture of lean. If we believe that the structures of lean are effective in enhancing learning in the industry setting and in building a problem-solving culture, then we should consider how these same structures can be translated into the classroom setting. The goal is not only to improve learning, but also to “practice what we preach”. The teaching of a continuous improving lean system curriculum, at its core, is contingent on developing and deploying a well institutionalized, continuous improving, problem solving culture within the classroom. This paper will argue that TMC’s continuous learning lean system is applicable in teaching a lean curriculum at the university college of engineering level.

In the next section, we describe the way in which a lean manufacturing organization is a continuous learning system. This is presented in the context of the “universal continuous learning model” of Fujio Cho during his 1986-1995 startup activities at TMC’s Georgetown, Kentucky facility. In subsequent sections, we consider the four elements of continuous learning systems. For each element, we overview what that element means within an industrial setting, and how those ideas are translated into a classroom setting to support a curriculum for undergraduate and graduate education in Lean manufacturing at the University of Kentucky. Section 6 outlines a Lean manufacturing curriculum as it is implemented at one university. Section 7 concludes with some summary statements.

2. Continuous Learning Systems Theory

Dr. Walter A. Shewhart was the first to define “continuous learning” in a production system when he argued that the three steps in a production process: specification, production, and inspection, must go in a circle rather than a straight line to achieve continuous improving product quality. He further argued, these three steps are better conceptualized as the three steps in the scientific method; that is, specification, production and inspection correspond respectively to “making a hypothesis, carrying out an experiment, and testing the hypothesis”1. Shewhart 1

Hall, A., & Holloway, L. (2008, June), Application Of Lean Concepts To The Teaching Of Lean Systems Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3836

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