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lean
dictionary

LEAN DEFINITIONS

Welcome to our Lean Management Dictionary, your one-stop reference for essential Lean terms. Trying to make sense of the terms used in Lean Manufacturing or Lean Management, our glossary offers concise definitions of key Lean terms. Here you can expand your Lean vocabulary. 

  • 3P (Production Preparation Process): A method of designing and developing new products or processes by involving cross-functional teams and following lean principles.

  • 5 Whys: A technique of asking "why" five times or more to find the root cause of a problem and prevent it from recurring.

  • 5S: A system of workplace organization that consists of five steps: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.

  • A3 Thinking: A problem-solving approach that uses a single sheet of paper (A3 size) to document the current situation, root causes, countermeasures, action plan, and results.

  • Activity-Based Costing: A method of allocating costs to products or services based on the activities they require, rather than on traditional factors such as volume or direct labor.

  • Andon: A visual signal that alerts workers, supervisors, or managers of a problem or abnormal condition in a process or equipment.

  • Autonomation: A concept of automation with a human touch, which means that machines are designed to stop automatically when they detect a defect or abnormality, and require human intervention to resume operation.

  • Batch Size Reduction: A technique of reducing the quantity of items or materials processed at a time, in order to minimize inventory, waste, and defects, and to increase flexibility, quality, and flow.

  • Bottleneck Analysis: A method of identifying and eliminating the constraints or obstacles that limit the capacity or throughput of a process.

  • Capacity Utilization: A measure of how much of the available capacity of a process or resource is being used, expressed as a percentage.

  • Cellular Manufacturing: A layout of machines and equipment that are grouped by the type of product or process they perform, rather than by function, in order to facilitate the flow of materials and reduce waste.

  • Change Management: A process of planning, implementing, and sustaining organizational changes, such as new strategies, structures, systems, or cultures, by engaging and supporting the people affected by the changes.

  • Changeover Time: The time required to switch a machine or process from producing one type of product or service to another, including the setup, adjustment, and testing activities.

  • Constraint Management: A process of identifying, exploiting, subordinating, elevating, and removing the constraints or bottlenecks that limit the performance of a system or process.

  • Continuous Flow: A state of production where each item or unit moves from one process step to the next without interruption or waiting, resulting in faster delivery, lower inventory, and higher quality.

  • Continuous Improvement: A culture and practice of constantly seeking ways to improve the performance, quality, and efficiency of a process, product, or service, by involving all stakeholders and applying various tools and techniques.

  • Cost of Poor Quality: A measure of the financial impact of defects, errors, rework, scrap, warranty claims, customer complaints, and other forms of waste or nonconformance that result from poor quality.

  • Cross-Functional Team: A group of people from different departments, functions, or disciplines who work together to achieve a common goal, such as solving a problem, developing a product, or improving a process.

  • Cycle Time: The time required to complete one cycle of a process or operation, from start to finish, including the value-added and non-value-added activities.

  • Demand Forecast Accuracy: A measure of how close the actual demand for a product or service is to the forecasted demand, expressed as a percentage.

  • Demand Pull: A production system where the output is driven by the actual demand or orders from the customers, rather than by the forecasted demand or production schedule.

  • Downtime: The time when a machine, equipment, or process is not operating or producing, due to planned or unplanned reasons, such as maintenance, breakdown, or changeover.

  • Employee Turnover Rate: A measure of how many employees leave an organization within a given period, expressed as a percentage of the average number of employees in that period.

  • Employee Involvement: A practice of engaging and empowering employees to participate in decision-making, problem-solving, and improvement activities that affect their work and the organization.

  • Empowerment: A state of giving employees the authority, responsibility, and resources to make decisions, take actions, and initiate changes that improve their work and the organization.

  • Error Proofing: A technique of preventing or eliminating defects, mistakes, or errors in a process, product, or service, by designing or modifying the system, equipment, or environment to make it impossible or difficult to make errors.

  • First Pass Yield: A measure of the quality and efficiency of a process, calculated by dividing the number of units that pass the process without defects or rework by the total number of units that enter the process, expressed as a percentage.

  • Flexible Manufacturing: A production system that can quickly and easily adapt to changes in customer demand, product variety, or process requirements, by using modular equipment, cross-trained workers, and agile processes.

  • Flow: A state of production where the materials, information, and value move smoothly and continuously from the beginning to the end of a process, without interruption, waste, or variation.

  • Gemba: A Japanese term that means "the real place" or "the place where the value is created", such as the shop floor, the office, or the customer site.

  • Gemba Kaizen: A practice of continuous improvement that involves going to the gemba, observing the current situation, identifying the problems and opportunities, and implementing small changes to improve the process.

  • Gemba Walk: A practice of visiting the gemba, usually by managers or leaders, to see the actual work, talk to the workers, ask questions, and learn about the process, the problems, and the improvements.

  • Genchi Genbutsu: A Japanese term that means "go and see for yourself" or "go to the source", which implies that the best way to understand a situation or a problem is to observe it directly at the gemba, rather than relying on reports or data.

  • Hoshin Kanri: A Japanese term that means "direction management" or "policy deployment", which is a method of aligning and cascading the strategic goals, objectives, and measures of an organization to all levels and functions, and ensuring the execution and review of the plans.

  • Housekeeping: A practice of keeping the workplace clean, organized, and safe, by following the 5S system or similar methods.

  • Inventory Management: A process of planning, controlling, and optimizing the amount and flow of materials, goods, or resources in a process or organization, in order to meet the customer demand, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.

  • Inventory Turns: A measure of how often an organization sells or uses its inventory in a given period, calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold by the average inventory value, or by dividing the sales by the inventory value.

  • JIT (Just-In-Time): A production system that aims to produce or deliver the right product or service, at the right time, in the right quantity, and at the right quality, by eliminating waste, reducing inventory, and synchronizing the flow with the customer demand.

  • Jidoka: A Japanese term that means "automation with a human touch" or "intelligent automation", which is a concept of designing machines or processes to stop automatically when they detect a defect or abnormality, and require human intervention to resume operation.

  • Kaikaku: A Japanese term that means "radical change" or "breakthrough improvement", which is a type of improvement that involves making significant changes to a process, product, or system, by introducing new technologies, methods, or concepts.

  • Kaizen: A Japanese term that means "change for the better" or "continuous improvement", which is a culture and practice of constantly seeking ways to improve the performance, quality, and efficiency of a process, product, or service, by involving all stakeholders and applying various tools and techniques.

  • Kaizen Blitz: A type of kaizen that involves a short-term, intensive, and focused improvement project, usually lasting from a few days to a few weeks, that targets a specific area, process, or problem, and follows a structured approach of planning, analysis, implementation, and evaluation.

  • Kanban: A Japanese term that means "signboard" or "visual card", which is a tool and method of controlling the flow of materials or information in a process, by using visual signals, such as cards, bins, or lights, to indicate the status, quantity, or location of the items.

  • Kanban Board: A visual tool that displays the workflow and progress of a process, project, or team, by using columns, rows, and cards to represent the stages, categories, and tasks, and by moving the cards across the board to reflect the changes in status.

  • KPI (Key Performance Indicator): A metric that measures the performance, progress, or achievement of a specific goal, objective, or outcome, that is relevant, meaningful, and actionable for an organization, function, process, or team.

  • Lead Time: The time required to complete a process, operation, or project, from start to finish, including the waiting time, processing time, and transportation time.

  • Lean Assessment: A process of evaluating the current state of a process, product, or organization, in terms of the level of waste, efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction, and identifying the gaps and opportunities for improvement.

  • Lean Audit: A process of verifying and validating the implementation and effectiveness of lean practices, principles, and tools in a process, product, or organization, and providing feedback and recommendations for improvement.

  • Lean Benchmarking: A process of comparing the performance, practices, and results of a process, product, or organization with the best-in-class or industry standards, and identifying the best practices and gaps for improvement.

  • Lean Coaching: A process of providing guidance, support, and feedback to individuals or teams who are implementing or improving a process, product, or organization, using lean principles, tools, and techniques, and helping them develop their skills and capabilities.

  • Lean Consultant: A professional who provides expert advice, assistance, and training to organizations that want to implement or improve a process, product, or organization, using lean principles, tools, and techniques.

  • Lean Culture: A set of values, beliefs, and behaviors that support and promote the application of lean principles, tools, and techniques in a process, product, or organization, and foster a continuous improvement mindset among all stakeholders.

  • Lean Enterprise: An organization that applies lean principles, tools, and techniques across all its functions, processes, products, and services, and strives to eliminate waste, increase value, and satisfy customers.

  • Lean Facilitator: A person who leads and coordinates the planning, execution, and evaluation of a lean improvement project or event, such as a kaizen blitz, and ensures the participation, collaboration, and alignment of all stakeholders.

  • Lean Governance: A system of policies, procedures, and standards that guide and monitor the implementation and performance of lean practices, principles, and tools in a process, product, or organization, and ensure the alignment with the strategic goals and objectives.

  • Lean Implementation: A process of applying lean principles, tools, and techniques to a process, product, or organization, in order to eliminate waste, increase value, and satisfy customers.

  • Lean Leader: A person who demonstrates and promotes the application of lean principles, tools, and techniques in a process, product, or organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers others to pursue continuous improvement.

  • Lean Logistics: A process of planning, implementing, and controlling the flow and storage of materials, goods, or information, from the point of origin to the point of consumption, in a way that eliminates waste, reduces costs, and increases efficiency.

  • Lean Manufacturing: A production system that applies lean principles, tools, and techniques to the manufacturing process, in order to eliminate waste, reduce inventory, improve quality, and increase productivity.

  • Lean Metrics: A set of measures that quantify the performance, results, and benefits of applying lean principles, tools, and techniques to a process, product, or organization, and provide feedback and direction for improvement.

  • Lean Office: A process of applying lean principles, tools, and techniques to the administrative and service processes, in order to eliminate waste, reduce errors, improve quality, and increase efficiency.

  • Lean Planning: A process of setting the vision, goals, objectives, and measures for implementing or improving a process, product, or organization, using lean principles, tools, and techniques, and aligning them with the customer needs and expectations.

  • Lean Principles: A set of fundamental concepts and guidelines that underlie the application of lean practices, tools, and techniques, such as identifying value, eliminating waste, optimizing flow, implementing pull, and pursuing perfection.

  • Lean Six Sigma: A methodology that combines the principles, tools, and techniques of lean and six sigma, in order to eliminate waste, reduce variation, improve quality, and increase efficiency in a process, product, or organization.

  • Lean Strategy: A plan of action that defines the direction, scope, and priorities for implementing or improving a process, product, or organization, using lean principles, tools, and techniques, and aligning them with the customer needs and expectations.

  • Lean Thinking: A mindset and attitude that embraces and applies lean principles, tools, and techniques to a process, product, or organization, and seeks to eliminate waste, increase value, and satisfy customers.

  • Lean Tools: A set of methods, techniques, and devices that support and facilitate the application of lean principles, tools, and techniques to a process, product, or organization, such as 5S, kanban, kaizen, value stream mapping, etc.

  • Lean Transformation: A process of changing the culture, structure, and performance of a process, product, or organization, by applying lean principles, tools, and techniques, and achieving significant and sustainable improvements in waste reduction, value creation, and customer satisfaction.

  • Lean Training: A process of providing education, instruction, and practice to individuals or teams who want to learn and apply lean principles, tools, and techniques to a process, product, or organization.

  • Line Balancing: A technique of distributing the work elements or tasks among the workers or machines in a process or operation, in order to minimize the idle time, optimize the utilization, and maximize the output.

  • Muda, Mura, Muri: A Japanese term that means "waste, unevenness, and overburden", which are the three types of waste or non-value-added activities that should be eliminated or minimized in a process, product, or organization.

  • Net Promoter Score: A measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction, calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors (those who would not recommend the product or service) from the percentage of customers who are promoters (those who would recommend the product or service).

  • Non-Value-Added Activities: Any activities or tasks that do not add value to the product or service from the customer's perspective, or that are not necessary for the process or operation, such as waiting, inspecting, moving, storing, etc.

  • OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness): A measure of the performance, availability, and quality of a machine, equipment, or process, calculated by multiplying the percentage of operating time, the percentage of actual output, and the percentage of good output.

  • One-Piece Flow: A state of production where each item or unit moves from one process step to the next without interruption or waiting, and without being part of a batch or lot, resulting in faster delivery, lower inventory, and higher quality.

  • On-time Delivery: A measure of the reliability and efficiency of a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the number of orders or units delivered on time by the total number of orders or units delivered, expressed as a percentage.

  • Operational Excellence: A state of achieving superior performance, quality, and efficiency in a process, product, or organization, by applying the best practices, principles, and tools of lean, six sigma, and other improvement methodologies.

  • PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act): A cycle of continuous improvement that involves four steps: plan the improvement, do the improvement, check the results, and act on the learning.

  • Performance Measurement: A process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to the inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impacts of a process, product, or organization, in order to evaluate its performance against predefined goals, standards, or benchmarks.

  • Poka-Yoke: A Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing" or "inadvertent error prevention". It refers to any device, method, or technique that prevents defects from occurring or escaping by eliminating the possibility of human error or making the error obvious and easy to correct.

  • Process Control: A method of monitoring and regulating a process, product, or organization, in order to ensure that it operates within the specified limits of quality, cost, time, and safety. Process control involves measuring the actual performance, comparing it with the desired performance, and taking corrective actions if necessary.

  • Process Cycle Efficiency: A ratio of the value-added time to the total cycle time of a process, product, or organization, expressed as a percentage. It measures how efficiently the process converts inputs into outputs, without any waste or delay. The higher the process cycle efficiency, the more lean the process is.

  • Process Efficiency: A measure of the effectiveness and productivity of a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the output by the input, expressed as a percentage. It measures how well the process utilizes the resources (such as materials, energy, labor, time, etc.) to produce the desired output, with minimal waste or loss.

  • Process Improvement: A systematic approach to identify, analyze, and enhance a process, product, or organization, in order to achieve better performance, quality, and customer satisfaction. Process improvement involves identifying the current state, defining the future state, and implementing the changes to close the gap.

  • Process Mapping: A technique of visually representing the steps, activities, inputs, outputs, and flows of a process, product, or organization, using symbols, icons, arrows, and texts. Process mapping helps to understand, document, communicate, and improve the process.

  • Process Redesign: A radical approach to re-engineer a process, product, or organization, in order to achieve dramatic improvements in performance, quality, and customer satisfaction. Process redesign involves fundamentally rethinking and transforming the process from scratch, rather than making incremental changes.

  • Process Sigma: A measure of the variation and defect rate of a process, product, or organization, based on the number of standard deviations (sigma) that fit between the mean and the specification limits. It indicates how well the process meets the customer requirements and expectations. The higher the process sigma, the lower the defect rate and the higher the quality.

  • Process Standardization: A method of establishing and implementing common procedures, rules, formats, and guidelines for a process, product, or organization, in order to ensure consistency, uniformity, and compliance across different units, locations, and times. Process standardization helps to reduce variability, errors, and waste, and to increase efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction.

  • Pull System: A type of production system that is driven by the actual demand and consumption of the customers, rather than by the forecast or schedule of the suppliers. In a pull system> the production is triggered by a customer order, and the inventory is kept at the minimum level. A pull system helps to reduce overproduction, waste, and inventory costs.

  • Pull Through Rate: A measure of the conversion rate of a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the number of orders or units completed by the number of orders or units started, expressed as a percentage. It indicates how well the process delivers the output to the customers, without any defects, rework, or cancellation.

  • Quality Circles: A group of workers who voluntarily meet regularly to identify, analyze, and solve quality and productivity problems in their work area, using various tools and techniques of quality management. Quality circles aim to improve the performance, quality, and morale of the workers, and to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

  • Quick Changeover: A method of reducing the setup time and downtime of a process, product, or organization, in order to increase the flexibility, efficiency, and responsiveness of the production. Quick changeover involves applying various techniques, such as standardized work, parallel processing, pre-staging, and error-proofing, to minimize the time and resources required for changing from one product or service to another.

  • Return on Assets: A measure of the profitability and efficiency of a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the net income by the total assets, expressed as a percentage. It indicates how well the process utilizes the assets (such as equipment, facilities, inventory, etc.) to generate income, with minimal investment or cost.

  • Root Cause Analysis: A technique of identifying, investigating, and resolving the underlying causes of a problem, defect, or failure in a process, product, or organization, rather than treating the symptoms. Root cause analysis involves using various tools and methods, such as the 5 Whys, fishbone diagram, Pareto chart, etc., to find out the root causes and eliminate them permanently.

  • Safety Incident Rate: A measure of the frequency and severity of safety incidents or accidents in a process, product, or organization, calculated by multiplying the number of incidents or accidents by a factor (such as 200,000 hours) and dividing by the total number of hours worked, expressed as a rate per hour. It indicates how safe the process is for the workers, customers, and the environment, and how well the process complies with the safety standards and regulations.

  • Scrap Rate: A measure of the amount and cost of defective or unusable products or materials that are discarded or rejected in a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the number or value of the scrapped units by the number or value of the total units produced, expressed as a percentage. It indicates how wasteful the process is and how much it impacts the quality, cost, and profitability of the production.

  • Six Sigma Levels: A scale of measuring the quality and performance of a process, product, or organization, based on the number of defects per million opportunities (DPMO) or the process sigma. The six sigma levels are: 1 sigma (691,462 DPMO), 2 sigma (308,538 DPMO), 3 sigma (66,807 D>PMO), 4 sigma (6,210 DPMO), 5 sigma (233 DPMO), and 6 sigma (3.4 DPMO). The higher the six sigma level, the lower the defect rate and the higher the quality.

  • Skill Versatility: A measure of the ability and flexibility of a worker or a team to perform different tasks, roles, and functions in a process, product, or organization, depending on the needs and demands of the situation. Skill versatility helps to increase the productivity, efficiency, and adaptability of the workforce, and to reduce the dependency, bottleneck, and downtime of the production.

  • SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies): A technique of achieving quick changeover in a process, product, or organization, by reducing the setup time and downtime to less than 10 minutes (or a single-digit minute). SMED involves separating the internal and external setup activities, converting the internal activities to external ones, and streamlining and standardizing the remaining activities, in order to minimize the time and resources required for changing from one product or service to another.

  • Standard Work: A method of defining and documenting the best practices, procedures, and instructions for performing a task, activity, or function in a process, product, or organization, in order to ensure consistency, uniformity, and quality across different workers, shifts, and locations. Standard work specifies the sequence, timing, and tools for each step of the work, and serves as a baseline for continuous improvement.

  • Takt Time: A measure of the rate or pace of production in a process, product, or organization, calculated by dividing the available working time by the customer demand, expressed as a time per unit. It indicates how fast the process needs to produce the output to meet the customer requirements and expectations, and to avoid overproduction or underproduction.

  • Theory of Constraints: A management philosophy that focuses on identifying and eliminating the constraints or bottlenecks that limit the performance, throughput, or profitability of a process, product, or organization. The theory of constraints involves five steps: identify the constraint, exploit the constraint, subordinate everything else to the constraint, elevate the constraint, and repeat the cycle.

  • Throughput: A measure of the amount or value of products or services that are produced or delivered by a process, product, or organization, in a given period of time. It indicates the output, revenue, or capacity of the process, and how well the process meets the customer demand and generates income.

  • Time to Market: A measure of the speed and efficiency of a process, product, or organization, in bringing a new or improved product or service from the initial idea to the final launch or delivery to the customers. It indicates the competitiveness, innovation, and responsiveness of the process, and how well the process satisfies the customer needs and expectations.

  • Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): A holistic approach to maintaining and improving the equipment, facilities, and processes of a product or organization, in order to achieve maximum availability, performance, and quality, with minimal breakdowns, defects, or losses. TPM involves the participation and collaboration of all the workers, managers, and suppliers, and> aims to prevent any problems before they occur, by applying the principles and practices of autonomous maintenance, planned maintenance, focused improvement, quality maintenance, early equipment management, education and training, safety and environment, and TPM in administration.

  • TPM Pillars: The eight pillars or elements of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), which are: Autonomous Maintenance, Planned Maintenance, Focused Improvement, Quality Maintenance, Early Equipment Management, Education and Training, Safety and Environment, and TPM in Administration. Each pillar represents a specific area of focus and action for implementing and sustaining TPM in a product or organization.

  • Value Stream: A sequence of activities, processes, and flows that add value to a product or service, from the initial input or request to the final output or delivery to the customers. A value stream includes both the value-added and non-value-added activities, and covers the entire life cycle of the product or service, from the design, production, distribution, to the consumption, feedback, and disposal.

  • Value Stream Efficiency: A measure of the proportion of value-added time to the total lead time of a value stream, expressed as a percentage. It indicates how efficiently the value stream converts the inputs into outputs, without any waste or delay. The higher the value stream efficiency, the more lean the value stream is.

  • Value Stream Mapping: A technique of visually representing and analyzing the current state and future state of a value stream, using symbols, icons, arrows, and texts. Value stream mapping helps to identify, quantify, and eliminate the waste, inefficiency, and variability in the value stream, and to design and implement the improvements to achieve the desired performance, quality, and customer satisfaction.

  • Value-Added Activities: The activities, processes, and flows that contribute to the creation or enhancement of the value of a product or service, from the perspective of the customers. Value-added activities are essential, necessary, and beneficial for the customers, and they are willing to pay for them. Examples of value-added activities are cutting, welding, assembling, painting, testing, etc.

  • Value Proposition: A statement that summarizes the benefits and advantages of a product or service, in terms of meeting the needs, expectations, and preferences of the customers, and differentiating the product or service from the competitors. A value proposition communicates the unique value and selling points of the product or service, and why the customers should choose it over the alternatives.

  • Visual Controls: The devices, tools, signs, symbols, colors, charts, graphs, labels, etc., that are used to provide information, instructions, feedback, or warnings about a process, product, or organization, in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner. Visual controls help to monitor, regulate, and improve the performance, quality, and safety of the process, and to facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation among the workers, managers, and customers.

  • Visual Management: A system of managing and improving a process, product, or organization, by using visual controls to provide real-time information, guidance, and feedback about the status, performance, and problems of the process, and to enable quick and effective decision making and problem solving. Visual management aims to make the process> transparent, visible, and self-explanatory, and to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

  • Visual Workplace: A work environment that is organized, standardized, and clutter-free, and that uses visual controls to provide relevant and useful information about the process, product, or organization, at a glance. A visual workplace helps to improve the efficiency, quality, and safety of the work, and to reduce waste, errors, and accidents.

  • Waste Reduction: A method of eliminating or minimizing the activities, processes, and flows that do not add value to a product or service, and that consume resources, time, or space unnecessarily. Waste reduction helps to improve the performance, quality, and profitability of the process, product, or organization, and to reduce the environmental impact and cost of the production. Examples of waste are overproduction, waiting, transportation, inventory, motion, over-processing, defects, etc.

  • Work Cell: A group of workers, machines, tools, and equipment that are arranged in a compact and efficient layout, and that perform a specific set of tasks or functions in a process, product, or organization. A work cell is designed to optimize the flow, movement, and communication of the work, and to reduce waste, variability, and cycle time. A work cell operates as a self-contained unit, with minimal dependence on other units.

  • Work-in-Process (WIP): A measure of the amount or value of products or materials that are partially completed or in transit in a process, product, or organization, at any given point of time. It indicates the inventory, cost, and capacity of the process, and how well the process balances the supply and demand. Too much WIP can result in waste, inefficiency, and congestion, while too little WIP can result in underutilization, starvation, and delay.

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