A Guide to Lean Manufacturing and CPQ

lean manufacturing waste, waste dial

Lean manufacturing principles are a cornerstone for businesses aspiring to optimize their processes. The benefits of this theory include diminishing manufacturing waste, boosting productivity, and delivering enhanced value to customers. A crucial ally in achieving these objectives is Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software that enhances efficiency and improves processes.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing operates on a systematic approach derived from the famed Toyota Production System. The central rule of lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Waste, in this context, encompasses any activity that consumes resources without contributing value to the final product. The essence of lean manufacturing lies in recognizing and eliminating wasteful activities, ultimately striving for a streamlined and efficient production process.

8 Types of Manufacturing Waste

To understand the impact of lean principles, it’s crucial to recognize the eight types of waste identified and reduced through lean manufacturing practices.


Producing more products than necessary increases inventory costs and ties up resources.

  • Example: A company manufactures 1,000 units of a product based on a sales forecast. But the actual demand is only 800 units. The excess 200 units become surplus inventory, leading to storage costs, potential obsolescence, and tied-up capital.


Excess inventory leads to tied-up capital and can result in obsolescence or damage, diminishing overall profitability.

  • Example: A warehouse stocked with raw materials or finished goods that are not needed immediately. This excess inventory ties up capital, occupies valuable space, and increases the risk of damage or obsolescence.


Idle time during production that stems from raw material delays or inefficient manufacturing processes hampers productivity and adds unnecessary costs.

  • Example: Employees are standing around because raw materials are not available or the production schedule is inaccurate. This waiting time results in decreased productivity and increased labor costs.


Unnecessary movement of materials between production stages increases the risk of damage and delays.

  • Example: Products transported between different production stages using inefficient means or routes. This leads to unnecessary handling, increased risk of damage, and extended lead times.
waiting employee

Unused talent and waiting are two types of waste businesses should address with lean manufacturing.


Wasted movements by workers lead to hampered productivity and can contribute to safety concerns.

  • Example: Workers often search for tools or materials because of poor workplace organization. This wasted motion not only reduces efficiency but also increases the risk of errors and accidents.

Excess Processes

Expending more time or resources than necessary on a product or service adds unnecessary costs without providing additional value.

  • Example: A manufacturing process involves additional steps or features that the customer does not value or need. This results in unnecessary time, labor, and resource consumption, adding costs without enhancing the product’s value.


Quality or communication issues result in rework, repair, and potential customer dismay, leading to increased costs and defect waste.

  • Example: A batch of products does not match order requirements, resulting in rework or scrapping. This increases production costs, delays the order, and negatively impacts customer satisfaction which can harm the company’s reputation.

Unused Talent

Failing to harness the full potential of employees leads to missed opportunities for innovation and improvement. It also may lead to decreased productivity.

  • Example: Skilled workers on the production line have valuable insights into process improvements. If the company does not actively investigate their suggestions it could lead to missed opportunities for innovation and efficiency.

By identifying waste and addressing these examples, lean management practices can provide more efficient production processes. Adopting CPQ software offers custom manufacturers an opportunity to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency.


CPQ Software for Manufacturing

What is CPQ software? Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software is a robust solution to streamline the sales and manufacturing processes. It empowers businesses to generate accurate and customized quotes for complex products efficiently. CPQ tools centralize and automate product configuration, pricing, and quoting, ensuring consistency, precision, and speed during the sales cycle.


Tackle Waste with CPQ for Lean Manufacturing

Now, let’s explore how CPQ software can effectively address each waste type for efficient manufacturing.

Precise Production Schedules

CPQ software facilitates accurate demand forecasting and real-time data analysis. This allows manufacturers to align their production schedules with actual demand, adjusting quantities and timelines as needed.

Improved Inventory Levels

CPQ systems also provide real-time visibility into inventory levels. With proper forecasting and order processing, manufacturers can maintain optimal inventory levels. This ensures that the correct component quantities are on hand, minimizing the risk of overstocking or understocking. The resulting efficiency translates into capital savings and a more agile production process, directly combating inventory-related manufacturing waste.

Less Wasted Time

The quotation and order processes are streamlined with CPQ, reducing waiting times associated with manual approvals and communication delays. Automated workflows and instant approvals ensure that production processes continue seamlessly. This reduces idle time and addresses one of the most critical waste elements for would-be lean manufacturers.

Better Material Transport

CPQ software reduces the need for rushed material transport since quote and order processing is more efficient. Whether materials are delivered from an outside source or are moved within the facility, lean manufacturers can minimize transportation waste by optimizing production schedules and organizing the manufacturing line. This lowers costs and lessens movement – a significant step in the fight against manufacturing waste.

Enhanced Workflows

lean manufacturing waste, process to success

Frontier ERP with integrated CPQ eliminates excess processes to achieve lean manufacturing with improved operational efficiencies.

CPQ simplifies and automates the configuration, pricing, and ordering processes, eliminating unnecessary motions by workers. User-friendly interfaces and guided workflows allow employees to focus on value-added tasks rather than navigating complex systems. This improves overall productivity and mitigates manual data entry and corrections.

Defects Reduction

By automating the configuration and pricing processes, CPQ software reduces the risk of quote and order mistakes. Since information is automatically transferred from the quoting stage to production, there are fewer defects and errors. Improved product quality leads to minimizing rework and enhancing customer satisfaction – a strategic move against defects-related manufacturing waste.

Less Processes

CPQ software allows manufacturers to standardize certain product configurations and ensures that only necessary features and options are included. This eliminates extra processes by preventing the inclusion of unnecessary components. It also helps keep inventory levels under control. Not only does this decrease production errors, but it also reduces production time and costs without compromising quality.

Harness Talent

CPQ software encourages collaboration and innovation by freeing up employees from mundane tasks. By automating routine processes, employees can focus on more strategic aspects of their roles. Companies can also harness their talents to drive continuous improvement instead of wasting valuable resources.


The Frontier ERP CPQ Advantage

Frontier ERP is an industry-leading enterprise resource planning system made for discrete manufacturers. A reliable and secure software whether in the cloud or on premise, Frontier offers a stable, yet flexible platform. It also provides access to real-time data, ensuring that order, production, and inventory information are always up to date. This leads to accurate production, delivery estimates, and forecasting.

Frontier ERP includes built-in CPQ software which automates quote and order functions. This makes it easy for customers and dealers to place orders for complex and customized products efficiently. What makes it stand out is its advanced product configurator. This CPQ tool helps manufacturers offer different product variations that are easily managed and produced error-free while eliminating manufacturing waste.



Lean manufacturing principles serve as a foundational framework for businesses striving to optimize their processes. Businesses realize the benefits of reducing manufacturing waste with heightened productivity and increased customer value. CPQ software aligns seamlessly with lean principles – from precise production schedules and improved inventory management to streamlined workflows and defect reduction. Manufacturers that utilize CPQ within the lean manufacturing paradigm find that it is a powerful strategy for minimizing waste, enhancing efficiency, and staying competitive in the dynamic market landscape.

For details on how Frontier ERP with CPQ can impact your manufacturing waste, contact us today.

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