Lean Glossary 



Andon Board: A visual control device in a production area, typically a lighted overhead display, giving the current status of the production system and alerting team members to emerging problems.


Autonomation: Automation with a human touch. Refers to semi-automatic processes where the operator and machine work together. Autonomation allows man-machine separation. Also referred to Jidoka.             




Balanced production: All operations or cells produce at the same cycle time. In a balanced system, the cell cycle time is less than takt time.


Batch-and-Queue: Producing more than one piece of an item and then moving those items forward to the next operation before that are all actually needed there. Thus, items need to wait in a queue.


Benchmarking: The process of measuring products, services, and practices against those of leading companies.


Black Belt: Team leaders responsible for the implementation of a Lean project. They know how to successfully launch a project, how to transform it from phase to phase, and finally, how to complete a project and evaluate its success.


Bottleneck: Any resource whose capacity is equal to, or less than the demand placed on it.


Best-in-Class: A best-known example of performance in a particular operation. One needs to define both the class and the operation to avoid using the term loosely.


Blitz: A blitz is a fast and focused process for improving some component of business ­ a product line, a machine, or a process. It utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a quick problem-solving exercise, where they focus on designing solutions to meet some well-defined goals.                                     




Capacity Constraint Resources: Where a series of non-bottlenecks, based on the sequence in which they perform their jobs can act as a constraint.


Catch-Ball: A series of discussion between managers and their employees during which data, ideas, and analysis are thrown like a ball. This opens productive dialogue throughout the entire company.


Cells: The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence, typically in a U-shape, to permit single piece flow and flexible deployment of human effort.


Chaku-Chaku: A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds from machine to machine, taking the part from one machine and loading it into the next.


Change Agent: The catalytic force moving firms and value streams out of the world of inward-looking batch-and-queue.


Changeover: The installation of a new type of tool in a metal working machine, a different paint in a painting system, a new plastic resin and new mold in an injection molding machine, new software in a computer, and so on.


Constraint: Anything that limits a system from achieving higher performance, or throughput.


Continuous Flow Production: Means that items are produced and moved from one processing step to the next one piece at a time. Each process makes only the one piece that the next process needs, and the transfer batch size is one. Also called "single-piece flow" or "one-piece flow."


Covariance: The impact of one variable upon others in the same group.


Current State Map: Helps visualize the current production process and identify sources of waste.


Cycle Time: The time required to complete one cycle of an operation.                                  




Dependent Events: Events that occur only after a previous event.




Eight wastes: Taiichi Ohno¹s original catalog of the wastes commonly found in physical production plus the wastes of non-utilized talents of your employees. The original seven wastes are overproduction ahead of demand, waiting for the next processing stop, unnecessary transport of materials, over processing of parts due to poor tool and product design, inventories more than the absolute minimum, unnecessary movement by employees during the course of their work, and production of defective parts.


Error Proofing: Designing a potential failure or cause of failure out of a product or process.                                       




Five S: Five terms utilized to create a workplace suited for visual control and lean production. Sort means to separate needed tools, parts, and instruction from unneeded materials and to remove the latter. Simplify means to neatly arrange and identify parts and tools for ease of use. Scrub means to conduct a cleanup campaign. Standardize means to conduct Sort, Simplify, and Scrub at frequent intervals to maintain a workplace in perfect condition. Sustain means to form the habit of always following the first Ss.


Flow: A main objective of the lean production effort, and one of the important concepts that passed directly from Henry Ford to Toyota. Ford recognized that, ideally, production should flow continuously all the way from raw material to the customer and envisioned realizing that ideal through a production system that acted as one long conveyor.


Functional Layout: The practice of grouping machines or activities by type of operation performed.


Future State Map: A blueprint for lean implementation. Your organization¹s vision, which forms the basis of your implementation plan by helping to design how the process should operate.




Green Belt: Green Belts often play a key role in the success of an organization’s Six Sigma and Lean initiatives. As a member or leader of a high-performing project team, they are usually involved in selecting or defining projects, setting project objectives, data gathering, statistical analysis, and implementing change. Designing a potential failure or cause of failure out of a product or process.




Heijunka: A method of leveling production at the final assembly line that makes just-in-time production possible. This involves averaging both the volume and sequence of different model types on a mixed-model production line.


Hosin Planning (HP): Also known as Management by Policy or Strategy Deployment. A means by which goals are established and measures are created to ensure progress toward those goals. HP keeps activities at all levels of the company aligned with its overarching strategic plans. HP typically begins with the "visioning process" which addresses the key questions: Where do you want to be in the future? How do want to get there? When do you want to achieve your goal? And who will be involved in achieving the goals? HP then systematically explodes the whats, whos and hows throughout the entire organization.                                        



Just-in-Time (JIT): Principles that are fundamental to Time-Based Competition ­ waste elimination, process simplification, set-up and batch-size reduction, parallel processing, and layout redesign ­ are critical skills in every facet of the lean organization. JIT is a system for producing and delivering the right items at the right time, in the right amounts. The key elements of Just-in-Time are Flow, Pull, Standard Work, and Takt Time.                                        




Kaizen: Continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less waste. The term Kaizen Blitz refers to a team approach to quickly tear down and rebuild a process layout to function more efficiently.


Kanban: A signaling device that gives instruction for production or conveyance of items in a pull system. Can also be used to perform kaizen by reducing the number of Kanban in circulation, which highlights line problems.    


Knowledge Work - Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge. Examples include software engineers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, and any other white-collar workers, whose line of work requires the one to "think for a living".  Lean can be applied to knowledge work to continually root out and remove waste resulting in faster response times, higher quality and creativity, lower costs, and greater job satisfaction.                  




Lead Time: The total time a customer must wait to receive a product after placing an order. When a scheduling and production system is running at or below capacity, lead time and throughput time are the same. When demand exceeds the capacity of a system, there is additional waiting time before the start of scheduling and production, and lead time exceeds throughput time.


Lean: Business processes requiring less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of an operation.                                        




Master Black Belt: Lean experts that act as leaders to drive the change initiatives within an organization.


Mistake Proofing: Any change to an operation that helps the operator reduce or eliminate mistakes.


Muda: Anything that interrupts the flow of products and services through the value stream and out to the customer is designated Muda ­ or waste.                                                             




Non-Value Added: Activities or actions taken that add no real value to the product or service making such activities or action a form of waste.                                      




Operating Expenses: The money required the system to convert inventory into throughput.


Overproduction: Producing more, sooner or faster than is required by the next process.                                       




PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

•PLAN: Senior management should use the visioning process in the context of it Business Plan. HP translates the Business Plans to action plans, meaningful to all levels of the organization.

•DO: Answer the whats, hows, and whos for the total number of tiers for your organization; remember, the fewer the number of tiers, the better. Also, this is the time to bring management together and provide them with a basic understanding of HP mechanics.

•CHECK: On a periodic basis, review the measurements and note what you´ve learned that can help in the future.

•ACT: Make the necessary adjustments to plans and priorities in order to ensure the success of the strategy breakthroughs.


Perfection: Always optimizing value-added activities and eliminating waste.


Poka-Yoke: A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacture. An order-taking example is a screen for order input developed from traditional ordering patterns that question orders falling outside the pattern. The suspect orders are then examined, often leading to the discovery of inputting errors or buying based on misinformation. A manufacturing example is a set of photocells in parts containers along an assembly line to prevent components from progressing to the next stage with missing parts. A poka-yoke is sometimes called a baka-yok.


Process: The flow of material in time and space. The accumulation of sub-processes or operations that transform material from raw material to finished product.


Process Kaizen: Improvements made at an individual process or in a specific area. Sometimes called "point kaizen".


Processing Time: The time a product is actually being worked on in a machine or work area.


PULL: A system of cascading production and delivery instructions from downstream to upstream activities in which the upstream supplier waits until the downstream customer signals a need. A pull system means producing only what has been consumed by downstream activities or customers.


Pull System: One of the 3 elements of JIT. In the pull systems, the downstream process takes the product they need and pulls it from the producer. This customers pull is a signal to the producer that the product is sold. The pull system links accurate information with the process to minimize waiting and overproduction.


Push System: In contrast to the pull system, product is pushed into a process, regardless of whether it is needed. The pushed product goes into inventory, and lacking a pull signal from the customer indicating that it has been bought, more of the same product could be overproduced and put in inventory.




Quality Function Deployment (QFD): A visual decision-making procedure for multi-skilled project teams which develops a common understanding of the voice of the customer and a consensus on the final engineering specifications of the product that has the commitment of the entire team. QFD integrates the perspectives of team members from different disciplines, ensures that their efforts are focused on resolving key trade-offs in a consistent manner against measurable performance targets for the product, and deploys these decisions through successive levels of detail. The use of QFD eliminates expensive backflows and rework as projects near launch.


Quick Changeover: The ability to change tooling and fixtures rapidly (usually minutes), so multiple products can be run on the same machine.


Queue Time: The time a product spends in a line awaiting the next design, order processing, or fabrication step.                                   




Reengineering: The engine that drives Time-Based Competition. To gain speed, firms must apply the principles of reengineering to rethink and redesign every process and move it closer to the customer.


Resource Utilization: Using a resource in a way that increases throughput.




Sensei: An outside master or teacher that assists in implementing lean practices.


Sequential Changeover: Also, sequential set-up. When changeover times are within Takt time, changeovers can be performed one after another in a flow line. Sequential changeover assures that the lost time for each process in the line is minimized to one Takt beat. A set-up team or expert follows the operator, so that by the time the operator has made one round of the flow line (at Takt time), it has been completely changed over to the next product.


Seven wastes: Taiichi Ohno¹s original catalog of the wastes commonly found in physical production. These are overproduction ahead of demand, waiting for the next processing stop, unnecessary transport of materials, over processing of parts due to poor tool and product design, inventories more than the absolute minimum, unnecessary movement by employees during the course of their work, and production of defective parts.


Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED): A series of techniques designed for changeovers of production machinery in less than ten minutes. Obviously, the long-term objective is always Zero Setup, in which changeovers are instantaneous and do not interfere in any way with continuous flow.


Single-Piece Flow: A situation in which products proceed, one complete product at a time, through various operations in design, order taking, and production, without interruptions, backflows, or scrap.


Six Sigma: A methodology that improves any existing business process by constantly reviewing and re-tuning the process.  To achieve this, Six Sigma uses a methodology known as


DMAIC (Define opportunities, Measure performance, Analyze opportunity, Improve performance, Control performance).


Standards: These involve comparison with accepted norms, such as are set by regulatory bodies.


Standard Work: A precise description of each work activity specifying cycle time, takt time, the work sequence of specific tasks, and the minimum inventory of parts on hand needed to conduct the activity.


System Kaizen: Improvement aimed at an entire value stream.


Sub-Optimization: A condition where gains made in one activity are offset by losses in another activity or activities, created by the same actions crating gains in the first activity.                                     




Takt Time: The available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. For example, if customers demand 240 widgets per day and the factory operations 480 minutes per day, takt time is two minutes; if customers want two new products designed per month, takt time is two weeks. Takt time sets the pace of production to match the rate of customer demand and becomes the heartbeat of any lean system.


Theory of Constraints: A lean management philosophy that stresses removal of constraints to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operating expenses.


Throughput Time: The time required for a product to proceed from concept to launch, order to delivery, or raw materials into the hands of the customer. This includes both processing and queue time.


Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): A series of methods, originally pioneered to ensure that every machine in a production process is always able to perform its required tasks so that production is never interrupted.                                      




Value: A capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer.


Value-Added Analysis: With this activity, a process improvement team strips the process down to it essential elements. The team isolates the activities that in the eyes of the customer actually add value to the product or service. The remaining non-value adding activities ("waste" are targeted for extinction.


Value Chain: Activities outside of your organization that add value to your final product, such as the value adding activities of your suppliers.


Value Stream: The specific activities required to design, order and provide a specific product, from concept to launch, order to delivery, and raw materials into the hands of the customer.

Value Stream Mapping: Highlights the sources of waste and eliminates them by implementing a future state value stream that can become reality within a short time.


Visual Control: The placement in plain view of all tools, parts, production activities, and indicators of production system performance so everyone involved can understand the status of the system at a glance.  




Waste: Anything that uses resources, but does not add real value to the product or service.

Work in Progress (WIP): Product or inventory in various stages of completion throughout the plant, from raw material to completed product.                                       




Yellow Belt: Generally have some knowledge of lean, but do not act as sole project leader. Yellow belts participate in projects as subject matter experts, core team members and process map developers.


Yied: Produced product related to scheduled product.


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