Manufacturers must strive to overcome this fallacy. Innovation can’t be curtailed, as it brings the next generation breakthroughs that will continue to inspire growth and investment. Disruptive technology brings some degree of “waste” as new systems and workflows continue to be refined, until best practices are reached. Manufacturers are still on the upward slope of the learning curve, as they work to establish new best practices for on demand scheduling and “printing” needed components, rather than manufacturing them. Lean concepts can be used to guide the workflows and keep waste in check, without totally restricting some tolerance for the trial and error and experimentation that come with any new approach.

A look back at lean’s history’s and lean’s future comes at an opportune time, as many of the early adopters of lean transformation projects are reaching retirement age. U.S. census reports indicate 10,000 manufacturing workers reach retirement age every day. These retirees may include the managers and their production crews who sat through the eye-opening training sessions in the 1980s as words like kaizen and kanban still sounded so strange.

Now, a new generation of manufacturing personnel is being introduced to the lean vocabulary and striving to put the lean concepts in context for their jobs, their roles and their priorities. This isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly necessary.

The lean manufacturing philosophy is so import, so entrenched in manufacturing today that it isn’t going away completely. It’s time to polish up some of the lean concepts and recognize that they are still relevant and still valuable to manufacturing.

Larry Korak is the Director of Industry Strategy Direction, Industrial Manufacturing at Infor, a developer of enterprise software ranging from financial systems and resource planning to supply chain and customer relationships.