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Quick Definition

Right-sizing or “right size machinery” is the process that challenges the complexity of the equipment. It examines how equipment fits into an overall vision for how work will flow through the factory. When using right-sized machinery, smaller, dedicated machines are used rather than large, multipurpose, batch-processing machines.Right-sized machines are best used in cell manufacturing when a cell only produces one type of product.

What is Right-Sizing?

Right-sized equipment is a crucial concept in the realm of lean manufacturing, a philosophy that originated in Japanese manufacturing practices and is focused on minimizing waste, maximizing efficiency, and delivering value to customers. It emphasizes the importance of selecting and utilizing the correct piece of equipment and machinery to size equipment appropriately for the specific requirements of the production process. This approach significantly contributes to lean thinking and the success of lean manufacturing principles.

Lean Manufacturing and Right-Sized Equipment

Lean manufacturing is built upon the principles of reducing waste, increasing productivity, and continuously improving processes. One fundamental aspect of this philosophy is the concept of right-sized equipment, which emphasizes selecting machinery that aligns with the production needs, minimizes energy consumption, optimizes floor space, and enhances overall efficiency.

One-Piece Flow and Lean Thinking

One of the core principles of lean manufacturing is achieving one-piece flow, where products move through the production system one at a time, without delays or bottlenecks. Right-sized equipment is crucial in enabling one-piece flow by ensuring that each machine is capable of efficiently processing one piece at a time, minimizing cycle time, and increasing throughput.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and Changeover

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is another key element of lean manufacturing. It emphasizes the importance of keeping equipment in optimal working condition to prevent breakdowns and reduce changeover times. Right-sized equipment plays a role in TPM by ensuring that machines are appropriately sized for their intended tasks, minimizing downtime, and maximizing production efficiency.

Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen

Lean manufacturing relies on value stream mapping to identify and eliminate non-value-added activities in the production process. Right-sized equipment is a critical factor in optimizing the value stream by ensuring that workstations are equipped with machines that match the production requirements, eliminating the need for excess handling or rework. Continuous improvement, known as Kaizen, is also integral to lean thinking and involves making incremental changes to enhance efficiency.

Poka Yoke and Subscribers to Lean Principles

Poka Yoke, or error-proofing, is a lean manufacturing technique that helps prevent defects and errors in the production process. Right-sized equipment can contribute to Poka Yoke by ensuring that machines are appropriately sized to handle production without introducing errors or inconsistencies. Subscribers to lean principles embrace these methodologies and continually work toward improving their manufacturing processes.

Lean Journey and Six Sigma

Lean thinking is not a one-time event but an ongoing journey toward process improvement and waste reduction. Six Sigma, a methodology focused on minimizing variation and defects, often complements lean practices. Right-sized equipment supports both lean and Six Sigma initiatives by aligning machinery with the specific needs of the manufacturing process, reducing variability, and enhancing quality.


In summary, right-sized equipment is a fundamental concept in lean manufacturing, a philosophy that emphasizes waste reduction, efficiency, and value delivery. It involves selecting and utilizing machinery that matches the production requirements, promotes one-piece flow, supports Total Productive Maintenance, and contributes to value stream optimization. Right-sized equipment, along with lean thinking, continuous improvement, and methodologies like Six Sigma, forms the cornerstone of a successful lean manufacturing journey, benefiting manufacturers by improving productivity, reducing waste, and delivering value to customers.