We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Differences between Lean and Agile Manufacturing?

By Amy Rodriguez
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are many differences between lean and agile manufacturing, including production style, inventory levels, and customization abilities. A lean manufacturing technique is based on the mass assembly line strategy with a mixture of employees and machines creating products from the smallest components to the larger outside assemblies. In contrast, agile manufacturing depends mainly on production automation and modular pieces to form a desired product.

One main difference between lean and agile manufacturing is production configuration. Lean manufacturing relies heavily on employees to physically construct a part or group of parts; that product portion is passed to another employee for attachment of additional components. Automated machines may be added along the employee assembly line for more precise manufacturing, such as aligning electronic components on a printed circuit board (PCB).

By comparison, agile manufacturing uses automation as its main production strategy. The number of employees is reduced, to save on labor costs; the workers that remain along the production line are normally present to adjust or repair the robotic machines when necessary, rather than to physically create a product. As a result, the manufacturing line is efficient and cost effective for the business and consumers.

Inventory levels vary greatly between these two styles of manufacturing. Lean manufacturing requires numerous small parts, from washers to screws, to construct a product; the abundance of various parts contributes to high inventory storage fees. In contrast, agile manufacturing depends on a modular part construction. This standardized part structure allows different products to be made with the same few modules held in inventory which contributes to lower supply levels.

Lean and agile manufacturing processes also differ in terms of how easily products can be customized under each system. Changing any part of a product in lean production to customize its operation or appearance requires a redesign of the internal and external parts, as well as generating prototypes to verify functionality. Customized products are extremely expensive due to the high costs of this research and design. Additionally, the production line is interrupted while updating it to produce the customized product, which negatively impacts normal manufacturing times and costs.

In contrast, agile production can accommodate customized product orders since the modular construction can be altered quickly. The production line simply needs to adapt or add new modules to the existing product. As a result, the consumer can acquire a competitively priced custom product without impeding the normal business production line. Many consumers will seek out products from companies that can specialize in this manner. Both lean and agile manufacturing processes can satisfy customer needs, but with a direct effect on final product cost.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.