Why Your Automation Initiative Should Start With Lean

How to address pain points with simple automation in mind

The MEP National Network

January 4, 2023

Automation has been a hard sell for many small- and medium-sized manufacturers. Often it is difficult to justify a new piece of automation equipment unless it is for a specific project, you have the technical expertise to support it, or you are confident on the payback time for the ROI. That is why your automation initiative should start with lean manufacturing.

Automation is your goal for a future state; there are many ways to get there. Lean manufacturing can be a powerful tool to get started on your automation journey when you address pain points with simple automation in mind.

In this guide you will learn: 
• Why you should start with your biggest operational pain points to help build a vision for the future state
• How traditional manufacturing engineering still solves a lot of issues as a prelude to automation
• How a lean approach helped a manufacturer convert from batch production to single-piece flow
• How Value Stream Mapping provides a roadmap for automation

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About The Author

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The MEP National Network

The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing.


The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is part of the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The MEP National Network, whose mission is to strengthen and empower U.S. manufacturers, comprises the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the MEP Advisory Board, MEP Center boards, and the Foundation for Manufacturing Excellence, as well as over 1,400 trusted advisors and experts at approximately 450 MEP service locations, providing any U.S. manufacturer with access to resources they need to succeed. Visit MEP’s Manufacturing Innovation Blog online.