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The Fastenal Lean Team

Lean manufacturing is all about eliminating waste. Lean considers customer inputs and conducts a "war on waste," creating a culture of continuous improvement. Lean techniques are, in the most basic form, the systematic identification and elimination of wastes, the implementation of the concepts of continuous flow, and customer pull.

Need help with your Lean Processes? Contact the Lean Team

Lean: Creating More Value With Less Work

The Five Lean Principles

Specify Value: Identify what is value and what is not

  • Anything the customer is willing to pay for
  • The process object has to be physically changed
  • Must be done right the first time

Map the Value Stream: The value stream is all the activities necessary to deliver a product to customers

  • Problem solving: Concept to design and production
  • Information Management: Order taking, scheduling, delivery
  • Physical transformation of raw materials to delivered product

Create Flow: After eliminating waste in the value stream, make the value added steps flow together continuously, with no stoppages or rework

  • Utilize just-in-time production
  • Eliminate specialized departments and batches of work done in those departments
  • Focus on the end product itself and the steps required to complete a single product - via dedicated, cross-functional product teams
  • Redesign processes and tools to eliminate rework, scrap, and stoppages so production of the product can flow continuously


  • Deliver only what the customer wants, when the customer asks for it, rather than pushing products out and hoping customers want them
  • Downstream activities use kanban (simple signals) to indicate to upstream activities when more is needed
  • Right-size your tools and process so you don't need to produce massive quantities of intermediate parts

Pursue Perfection:

  • The improvements process never ends: you must always strive to offer a better product while reducing waste
  • Do kaikaku - radical transformation - to eliminate the largest sources of waste, and do kaizen - continuous incremental improvement - to move toward perfection
  • Keep your efforts focused for better results
  • Don't settle for merely being better than your current competition

Source: Villanova University

Process Mapping

As a value-added service, our inventory management specialists will work with your personnel to map how product flows through your current system and identify areas where operational costs can be reduced or eliminated.

We will uncover hidden sources of supply chain waste and provide total cost savings solutions that make your business faster, leaner, and more competitive.

Need help with process mapping? Contact the Lean Team to schedule a process mapping consultation.

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control

DEFINE the current state of your process

  • Bring teams together to discuss objectives and challenges
  • Collect historical data to quantify current procurement system costs
  • Map a complete path of product, from identified demand to material receipt

MEASURE collected data

  • Enter all possession and acquisition costs to create a baseline total cost
  • Graph baseline cost as a starting point to measure future improvements

ANALYZE the process to identify waste

  • Review the current state process and determine which steps are non-value-added
  • Review 6S audit to avoid any missed opportunities
  • Identify sources of waste (8 Central Wastes)
  • Create a future state summary that previews how the process will work once non-value-added activities have been removed; compare current state vs. future savings

IMPROVE Discuss potential improvement opportunities and begin implementation

  • Present current state findings and recommended implementation to stakeholders
  • Begin implementation process improvements

CONTROL Create an environment that promotes sustainability and continuous improvement

  • Establish quarterly meetings to review progress and drive continuous improvement
  • Use meetings to present cost savings documentation and 6S material for future savings opportunities

Desired Results

Targeting the "8 central wastes" of lean will provide optimal results that are in line with your business objectives. At the end of this exercise, the Fastenal and customer team will provide a summary calculating how overall profitability can be achieved in the following areas:

  • Providing better pricing by consolidating your supplier base
  • Reducing your inventory assets
  • Eliminating or reducing your obsolete inventory
  • Ensuring that the quality of your products meets the needs of your business
  • Reducing the square footage required to facilitate production materials
  • Identifying and eliminating non-value added functions
  • Improving your existing service levels
  • Reducing your inventory consumption by providing better control and traceability
  • Reducing your processing time
The 6S Principles

Six Sigma (6S) is a method used to create and maintain a clean, orderly, and safe work environment. 6S is often the first method companies implement in the Lean journey, since it serves as the foundation of future continuous improvement efforts.

Need help with your Lean Processes? Contact the Lean Team

Step 1: Sort

Focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. Sorting is an excellent way to free up valuable floor space and eliminate such things as broken tools, obsolete fixtures, scrap, and excess raw material. The sort process also helps prevent the JIC (just-in-case) job mentality.

Step 2: Straighten

Focuses on efficient and effective storage methods. Once sorted, items are arranged systematically to ensure their traceability.
Effective activities include:

  • Painting floors
  • Outlining work areas and locations
  • Shadow boards
  • Modular shelving and cabinets for needed items

Step 3: Shine

Once the work area clutter has been eliminated and necessary items identified, the next step is to thoroughly clean the area. Daily follow-up is necessary to sustain this improvement. Always keep items ready to use and in a tidy status.

Step 4: Standardize

Once the first three steps are completed, efforts should be made to standardize the process. All employees involved with the process should participate in the development of a standard method to maintain and monitor the first three 6S steps.

Step 5: Sustain

Sustain the previous four steps and continually improve on them. This is by far the most difficult to implement and achieve. Using self-discipline, each individual has to commit to the process.

  • Sustain the four previous steps and continually improve on them
  • Acquire self-discipline through the habit of repeating the four previous steps
  • Establish standards for each of the 6S standards
  • Establish and perform evaluations of each step

Step 6: Safety

This step is simple but important: remove hazards and dangers.

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