Lean Manufacturing

Principles of lean manufacturing are introduced that provide a systematic process for identifying and eliminating non-value activities (waste) in production processes. Students learn these principles through a series of mini-projects in the mechanical engineering shop, an all-day factory simulation workshop, and tours to local industry.

Course Materials and Resources


Week 1 - Introduction to Lean Thinking and ME Shop

Day Lecture Lab HW

Course Overview

Role of Engineering Logbooks

- Introductions
- Shop skills survey

- Shop Orientation

- Logbook Expectations

- Foam block mfg

  • Include at least one photo and annotation in your logbook each day that describes something interesting you did or learned in the shop.
  • Read Joe's Garage and select four terms from the lean building blocks diagram that are well-illustrated in Joe's Garage.  Define and explain each of these terms using examples from Joe's Garage.
  • In preparation for the block project, (1) review the part drawings, (2) find information on the following items in the Machine Shop portion of the Mindworks website, and (3) outline a process how you might fabricate each part.
    • lathe parts/operation
    • mill parts/operation
    • edge finder
    • endmills
    • taps/dies
    • boring bar
    • chamfer tools
    • deburring tool
    • fits/tolerances
    • machining plans

- Shop team formation
- Group A: Mill Project
- Group B: Lathe Project

  • Identify four concepts from the glossary of Joe’s Garage that are illustrated in the shop or design suite.  Explain each concept and give a detailed description how each concept is implemented.
  • Create manufacturing plan for mill and lathe portions of block project (to be updated during the project).



- Group A: Mill Project
- Group B: Lathe Project
  • In preparation for Kaizen Project Work: (a) review ASEE Presentation on just in time resources for project learning, (b) review ASEE paper on QR code development for ME shop, and (c) examine just-in-time shop learning resources on the Machine Shop webpage (on the Mindworks site) as well as the Mindworks Shoutwiki site (under kaizen project link).
  • Compose a logbook analysis that: (a) defines  the current state surrounding your kaizen project and (b) defines a credible and value-added future state/goal that can be achieved by your Kaizen team before the end of ME 410.
  • Identify resources and begin project learning for Kaizen projects.



- Group A: Mill Project
- Group B: Lathe Project
  • Create and analyze Present State map for the boat factory. Include as much process information as possible.  Identify at least two lean concepts that could be implemented in a future state.

        Vandal Boat Factory VSM data
        Boat Folding Instructions 

  • Generate manufacturing plan for 2nd half of the Block Project.
  • No Lecture
    AM LAB 8:30-noon
    PM LAB 1:00-4:30

Factory Simulation


- Workshop Slides
- Folding Instructions

- Worker Instructions

- Simulation Scorecard

Applications of Lean Thinking in the Office

- WUNA Old Video

- WUNA New Video



Week 2 - Apply Lean Concepts in Shop, CAD Lab, and Kaizen Projects

Day Lecture Lab HW

Memorial Day - no class

5/27 Exchange block parts(with complementary team, i.e. mill team exchanges with lathe team) and analyze tolerances.

- Group A: Lathe Project
   Kaizen Project Prep
- Group B: Mill Project
   Kaizen Project Prep
  • Document and discuss findings from block exchange.  Begin composing a block project SII 

    • 3 Strengths (why)

    • 3 Improvements (how)

    • 3 Insights/Lessons Learned (so what)

  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Read pages 1-64 from All That Matters About Quality... In your logbook, answer the first batch of reflection questions by Friday.
  • Complete a Logbook Review Form (all portions) and tape it into your logbook.  Bring your logbook to class.
  • Bring printed copies of key elements of your kaizen project work to date (logbook notes and reference material) for display during the kaizen mid-project peer review.


- Group A: Lathe Project
   Kaizen Project Prep
- Group B: Mill Project
   Kaizen Project Prep
  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Block Project write-up due at start of Lab Friday 5/30.
  • Read pages 1-64 from All That Matters About Quality... In your logbook, answer the first batch of reflection questions by Friday.

8:30 am - 5:30 pm

Plant Tours

  • Bring your driver's license
    or your Passport.

  • Wear long pants

  • Wear closed toed shoes. 

gather at 8:15 am
depart at 8:30 am

return by 5:30 pm

SEL - Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory
(am tour)


one van to return to UI between tours


ATK - Lewiston
(pm tour)


 Tour Scavenger Hunt

  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Note context and discuss of scavenger hunt items.
  • Formulate any outstanding questions that you would like to explore in tomorrow's debrief of the plant tours.




- Group A: Lathe Project
   Kaizen Project Prep
- Group B: Mill Project
   Kaizen Project Prep

Block Project Write-up
due by 5 pm (place on a wooden table in design suite along with your hardware)
  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Read pages 65-130 from All That Matters About Quality.... In your logbook, answer the second batch of reflection questions.

Week 3 - Mini-Projects and End of Course Deliverables

Day Lecture Lab HW
  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Review for exam
  • Kaizen Project
  • Final Project
  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Final Project Work
  • Use your logbook to synthesize your understanding of lean manufacturing concepts in preparation for the in-class exam:
    • House of Lean
    • Types of Waste
    • Plant Layouts
    • 5S Systems
    • Visual Controls
    • Kaizen Events
    • Value Stream Maps
    • Just-in-Time
    • Quality at the Source
    • Work Cell Design
    • Set-Up Reduction
    • Product Families
  • In-Class Exam
  • Inventory remaining action items and implementation plans associated with Kaizen project and final project
  • Kaizen Project
  • Final Project
  • Kaizen Project Work
  • Final Project Work
  • Exam Recap
  • Course Deliverables
  • Preparation for Snapshot
    • Kaizen Project Display
    • Final Project Display
  • Course Assessment 
  • Kaizen Project
  • Final Project
  • Record insights from exam debriefing.
  • Complete a summative Logbook Review Form looking back across the entire course.
  • Kaizen Display (use foam core to pin up printouts and/or  display hardware on tables)
    • Current state description and analysis
    • Desired future state/goal
    • Physical or electronic product for others to explore (as appropriate)
    • NOTE: Review your display with a mentor, an instructor, and Russ before class
  • Final Project Display
    (PM teams to show work-in-progress if not complete)
    • Dimensioned Drawings
    • CAD Visualization
    • Manufacturing Plan
    • Hardware Artifact
    • Relevant Pictures
    •  Relevant Discussion
  • Block Project Display
  • Kaizen Project Display
  • Final Project Display
  • Final Work in Shop
  • Shop and Design Suite Clean-Up
  • Compilation of Course Deliverables
  • Course Deliverables by 5:00 pm
    • Kaizen Project
      • Leave display out after Snapshot Event
      • Wiki pages must be approved by the Wiki mentors; address issues on your discussion page
      • Artifacts and drawing packages should be logged with Russ Porter
      • Files should be logged with Steve Beyerlein
    • Final Project
      • Leave out after Snapshot event
      Personal Logbook
      • Place in milk crate within design suite