What Is Lean Maintenance?

Lean manufacturing, or just-in-time manufacturing, was first popularized in the 1930s by Toyota with a novel approach to automotive manufacturing. The principles and structures built into Toyota’s manufacturing system helped them become one of the most successful automotive companies worldwide, and has been adopted by companies ever since. In 2011, Eric Reis adjusted the method to fit small businesses in his book The Lean Startup. Now, the principles of lean operations are used in every industry, including maintenance. 


What is lean maintenance?


Contrary to popular belief, lean maintenance is not the same as run-to-fail maintenance. Lean maintenance is a holistic strategy that aims to eliminate waste at every step of the process, from the way work orders are organized and dispatched to the methods used by the maintenance team to perform common repairs. Efficiency and long-term effectiveness are the top priorities when implementing a lean maintenance strategy. It requires both preventative, reactive, and predictive strategies as well as regular auditing to reduce waste whenever it can be identified. 


Types of waste in maintenance


In maintenance strategies, there are four main types of waste: environmental, material, financial, and human potential. Environmental and material wastes include byproducts or materials that either harm the facility or go unused in the repair process. They can include wasteful cleaners, unused extra parts, or other items that could be replaced or eliminated to create a more efficient process. Financial and human wastes include wastes of money or manpower that go toward ineffective or unnecessary repairs. These include preventative repairs that are scheduled too closely together, repairs that don’t last, or repairs on equipment that is already failing. 


How to create a lean maintenance strategy


Lean maintenance is a process. It requires patience, consistency, and cooperation from your team in order to rethink your maintenance processes and make them more efficient. Some common ways to cut out maintenance waste include: 


  • Researching repair and cleaning equipment to find more efficient alternatives
  • Providing more training or hiring more experienced contractors to reduce failed repairs 
  • Experimenting with preventative care scheduled to find the right balance of services that prevent emergencies without overworking equipment. 
  • Financially prioritizing preventative and predictive care in order to prevent emergency services


There are hundreds of ways to create a lean maintenance strategy, but only some that will actually work for your facility. Contact MaintenX today to perfect your preventative care schedule and become a more lean facility today.

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