Build-to-order was once the only way in which products were made, but limited the market to only the rich buyers. Mass production contributed to a wider access to products, however with losses in individuality. Finally, mass customization aimed at holding out the promise of both, and “lean” concepts helped to (partly) make it a reality. However, the world has changed significantly since the first introduction of “lean” – especially in the most recent years. European companies are facing a growing international competition in volume markets due to the increasing economical and technical emancipation of low labour cost countries. While multinational enterprises are shifting their manufacturing activities to Far East to keep competitive in terms of costs, small and medium sized companies often have to leave their traditional market segments and retreat into niches. However, smaller production lot sizes and the increasing complexity of product programmes require innovative manufacturing strategies. According to several studies and empirical proves, less than 0,5% of a company’s production lead time is value adding, the bigger part of it is dedicated to waiting, handling and internal transport. This paper presents a new approach for the design of lean manufacturing support systems in make-to-order production systems that have to deal with a huge variety of product types and with high variations in demand. A special focus is given to the design of manual material handling and transport (MMHT) solutions. With the help of axiomatic design principles, a tree of design parameters is derived and translated into generally applicable design rules. With the help of a practical example from make-to-order industry, the validity of the methodology is illustrated.