Using the 4 M’s to Start Standardizing

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by | Jul 22, 2022

by | Jul 22, 2022

If you’re looking for a fun movie night, you might look for an unpredictable movie, with plenty of variables and surprises. But in manufacturing, variables can cause more downtime, less quality, and other woes. Sometimes predictability is best!

As project manager Nathan Bonds says: “Without Standardization, there can be no improvement! Stabilize, Standardize, then Capitalize. We are focusing on the second step, assuming you have done your due diligence with stabilizing the process first.”

In this Lean Tip video, Nathan highlights how standardization can help your company be more predictable and productive. He’ll even show you how standardization is already improving your life, without you even knowing it!

The “Four Ms” of Standardization

As Nathan explains, standardization involves working on the “Four Ms:”

  • Manpower
  • Methods
  • Machines
  • Materials

Nathan suggests that, when focusing on Manpower and Methods, Job Instruction (JI) will serve you best.

JI allows you to quickly train employees to do a job correctly, safely & conscientiously. JI is designed specifically to develop standardized work. By utilizing Job Instruction you gain the benefits of consistent training and develop a standardized process upon which to apply continuous improvement.

(Polaris MEP has several staff members certified to teach JI. Please email Nathan at with to learn more.)

The goal of TPM Total Productive Maintenance - zero breakdowns, accidents, defects

The goal of TPM Total Productive Maintenance.

When focusing on Machines, Nathan recommends companies look into Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). Too often manufacturers, when faced with little issues, fix them on the fly and continue. This makes sure that orders are delivered on time HOWEVER eventually the machines struggle so much that shipment goals are missed or quality begins to drop.

Click here to watch a video on TPM.

Lastly, when focusing on Materials, Nathan recommends looking into supplier scouting.

Finding standard materials means finding suppliers with a high standard. With the many supply chain issues facing manufacturers today, it is important to make sure a messy supply chain does not mess with your standardization efforts.

Putting This Lean Manufacturing Tip Into Action

Are you setting out on a quest to “Stabilize, Standardize and Capitalize”? Share your experiences or concerns about standardization by emailing Nathan at

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