Understanding the potentially confusing jargon of Lean can unlock a new, deeper understanding of the work we do here at Clarity.

It’s also a great opportunity to refresh your understanding if it’s been a while since you’ve brushed up on your knowledge. Explore our Lean Glossary and unleash the power of Lean in your business.


Agile Manufacturing

Agile Manufacturing is in essence, it is the ability to thrive under conditions of constant and unpredictable change like flexible manufacturing, agile manufacturing seeks to achieve rapid response to customer needs. But agile manufacturing also emphasises the ability to quickly reconfigure operations- and strategic alliances-to respond quickly to unforeseen shifts in the marketplace. In some instances, it also incorporates” mass customization” concepts to satisfy unique customer requirements. And in the broad sense, it includes the ability to react quickly to technical or environmental surprises.

Action Plan

Action Plan is a list of tasks to be completed, such as chores or steps to complete a project. It is an inventory tool which serves as an alternative or supplement to memory. When one of the items on an action plan is accomplished the task is checked or crossed off.

The Traditional method is to write these on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil, usually on a note pad.

Action Plans are often prioritised. There are several ways to set priorities:

ABC Analysis

A technique that has been used in business management for a long time, is the categorization of large data into groups, These groups are often marked A,B,C hence the name.

A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important

B – Tasks that are important but not urgent

C – Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

Each Group is then rank – ordered in priority, to further refine priority, some individuals choose to then force-rank all B items to either A or C. ABC analysis can incorporate more than three groups. ABS analysis is frequently combined with the Pareto Analysis.

Pareto analysis

This is the idea that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time, This principle is used to sort task into two parts. According to this form of Pareto analysis that tasks fall into the first category be assigned a higher priority. The 80-20 rule can also be applied to increase productivity: it is assumed that 80% of the productivity can be achieved doing20% of the tasks. If Productivity is the aim of time management, then these tasks should be prioritised It depends on the method adopted to complete the task. There is always a simpler and easy way to complete the task, If one uses a complex way it will be time-consuming, so one should always try to find the alternative ways to complete each task


Andon is a signal, light, bell, music alarm, triggered by an operator confronted with a non-standard condition. Tool failure, machine failure, bad parts, lack of parts, cannot keep up, the error needs correction, etc. The signal for immediate help to prevent line stop.

Anon Board

Anon 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 of emerging problems.

Annual Inventory Turns

Annual Inventory Turns is a measure that is calculated by dividing the value of the annual plant shipments at plant cost (for the most recent year) by the total current inventory value at plant cost. Total current inventory includes raw materials, work in process, and finished goods. Plant costs include material, labour and plant overhead.


Automation is a form of automation in which machinery automatically inspects each item after producing it. Ceasing production and notifying humans if a defect is detected. Toyota expands the meaning of jidohka to include the responsibility of all workers to function similarly. i.e to check every Item produced and to make no more is a defect is detected until the cause of the defect has been identified and corrected.



Baka-Yoke is (idiot or fool proofing) a manufacturing technique of preventing mistakes by designing the manufacturing process, equipment, and tools so that an operation literally cannot be performed incorrectly; an attempt to perform incorrectly, as well as being prevented, is usually met with a warning signal of some sort.


Cellular Manufacturing

Cellular Manufacturing is a manufacturing approach in which equipment and workstations are arranged to facilitate small-lot, continuous – flow production, In a manufacturing “cell”, all operations necessary to produce a component or subassembly are performed in close proximity, thus allowing for quick feedback between operators when quality problems and other issues arise. Workers in a manufacturing cell are typically cross-trained and, hence able to perform multiple tasks as needed.

Changeover Reduction

Changeover Reduction is one of Lean’s major objectives is a reduction of lead time. To achieve this, the size of batches often needs reduction, which in turn, creates a focus on reducing changeover times- i.e, the time from the last piece of one batch to the first piece of the next batch. Changeover time can have several components; e.g, internal, when a machine is stopped, and external, which involves preparation. Other types of changeovers are manufacturing line changeover, maintenance operations, vehicle/aircraft loading/unloading and office operations.

The classic changeover is, of course, the Grand Prix pit stop! It’s important not only to reduce the mean change over time but also reduce its variability using a standardised process. Moving internal activities to external ones, when possible, permits more up time for a machine since the maximum amount of preparation is accomplished before it is stopped. Example applications for improving external activities are placing tools on a cart near a die and using colour codes to avoid confusion. Example for improving internal activities.

Concurrent Engineering

Concurrent Engineering is a cross-functional, team –based approach in which the product and the manufacturing process are designed and configured within the same time frame, rather than sequentially. Ease and cost of manufacturability, as well as customer needs, quality issues, and product life cycle costs are taken into account earlier in the development cycle. Fully configured concurrent teams include representation from marketing, design engineering, manufacturing engineering, and Purchasing as well as a supplier- and even customer –Companies.

Continuous Flow and Call Design

Continuous Flow and Call Design is the disadvantage of traditional batch production are the large amounts of work in progress, Large conveyance time for parts, large lead times, and large liability for defects, Small lot production removes the walls from batch production, and reduces work in progress, lead times, and conveyance. It can be impossible however to balance task durations for machine operations with this push system since one operator can spend a great deal of time waiting, and inventory can build up at a station. Within U-shaped layouts, employees are cross-functionally trained and move with changing cell layouts. This means that one person can control the work in progress. The close proximity of workers also enhances communication, makes quick defective part detection possible, and workload adjustments can be made for volume changes.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement is a never-ending effort to expose and eliminate root causes of problems; small-step improvement as opposed to big-step improvement. Syn: kaizen.

Corporate Culture Chaku-chaku

Corporate Culture Chaku-chaku is a method of conduction single-piece flow in which the operator proceeds from machine to machine, taking a part from the previous operation and loading it to the next machine, then taking the part just removed from the machine and loading it into the following machine. Means “load-load” in Japanese.


CPK is a Statistical calculation used to indicate how well a design tolerance compares with the normal process variation ( defined as +/-3s) and accounts for any difference between the design target and the actual process mean. A good CPK indicates that the process is consistently under control- i.e within specification limits –and is also centred on the design target value. A CPK value of 1.33 is typically considered a minimum acceptable process capability; as the CPK value approaches 1.5, The process approaches six sigma capability (3.4 defective units per million).

Cross Functional Teams

Cross – Functional Teams are teams of employees representing different functional disciplines and /or different process segments who tackle a specific problem or perform a specific task, frequently on an ad hoc basis.

Customer Reject Rate

Customer Reject Rate  is a quality measure reflecting the number of complete units rejected or returned by external customers, expressed in parts per million. The calculation should include parts reworked by customers. Applies to all shipped units including parts.

Cycle Time

  1. In industrial engineering, the time between completion of two discrete units of production, For example, the cycle time of motors assembled at a rate of 120 per hour would be 30 seconds. Also if cycle time for every operation in a complete process can be reduced to equal takt time, products can be made in single – Piece flow.
  2. In materials management, it often refers to the length of time from when materials enter a production facility until it exits.
  3. In lean; manual + walking+ waiting time for one cycle of work sequence. Syn: Span time or throughput time.


Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO)

Defects per Million Opportunities is the ratio of defects found per unit (DPU) multiplied by 1,000,000 to the average opportunities for error in one unit. DPMO can be used in benchmarking because it is normalised to provide an equivalent comparison to products or services of varying complexity.

Demand Management

Demand Management works best when there is a uniform flow of products within the system. While a company’s policies should encourage stability, unfortunately, that is not always the case. For example, a reward system for product sales might encourage a spike in manufacturing demands at the end of each month. If signals are ready incorrectly, it can lead to supply chain problems in the form of an inaccurate product forecast. Accounting procedures can encourage management also to produce excess inventory in order to make the number on which they are evaluated look better.

Supply chain improvements can be expected when lead times are reduced, which would improve forecasting accuracy, and when there is a sharing of supply chain information that leads to an agreement to uniform schedules. Another opportunity is to change internal policies that impact demand volumes. For example, consider an end- of- the- month/quarter sales-target bonus policy that results in the Sales department giving temporary price concessions so that they meet their monthly/ quarter sales targets. This policy could be a candidate for change, since the sales- force reward policy may be causing a manufacturing demand peak that leads to much overtime and quality issues.

Design for Assembly

Design For Assembly is the practice in which ease and cost of assembly are emphasised during the product-design stage. DFMA asks: Can this design be manufactured at superior quality levels, at a cost and using processes which give it a clear sustainable competitive advantage?

Design for Quality

Design for Quality is the practice in which quality assurance and customer perception of product quality are emphasised as an integral part of the design process.

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

Design For Manufacturing and Assembly is a conscious process of making design decisions only after fully evaluating the manufacturing process, tools, quality control measures and equipment impacts, Design for procurement – A practise in which product designers work effectively with suppliers and sourcing personnel to identify and incorporate technologies or designs which can be used in multiple products, facilitating the use of standardized components to achieve economies of scale and assure continuity of supply.


Empowered Natural Work Teams

Empowered Natural Work Teams are teams that share a common workspace and or responsibility for a particular process or process segment. Typically such teams have clearly defined goals and objectives related to day- to –day production activities, such as quality assurance and meeting production schedules, as well as, authority to plan and implement process improvements. Unlike self- directed teams, empowered work teams typically do not assume traditional “Supervisory“ roles.

Enterprise Resource Planning

Enterprise Resource Planning is an extension of MRP 11 software designed to operate on enterprise-wide Client / Server computing platform. ERP systems typically claim the ability to achieve tighter (or”seamless”) integration between a greater variety of functional areas including materials management, supply chain management, production, sales and marketing, distribution, finance, field services and human resources. They also provide information linkages to help companies monitor and control activities in geographically dispersed operations, It is usually implemented as a comprehensive (and therefore expensive) software solution, used to manage all aspects of the business.

Error Proofing

Error Proofing is a manufacturing technique of preventing production errors by designing the manufacturing process, and tools so that an operation literally cannot be performed incorrectly ( see poke –yoke)


Finite Element Analysis

Finite Element Analysis is mathematical method for analysing stress. FEA is used in product design software to conduct graphical (Typically Colourized) on –screen analysis of a models’ reaction under various load conditions.

First Pass Yield

First Pass Yield is the percent of finished products or sub-assembly/component units that meet all quality related specifications at a critical test point in the process. This is a measure of the yield that results from the first time through the process, prior to any rework. It should reflect all defective units detected since the preceding yield test point. IN process industries, yield should be calculated as the percent of output that meets target-grade specifications ( excluding saleable “off Grade” product).

Five S / 5S

5S is the name of a workplace organisation methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke, Transliterated or translated into English, they all start with letter “S”. The list describes how items are stored and how the new order is maintained. The Decision –making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardisation which builds a clear understanding among employees of how work should be done, It also instils ownership of the process in each employee.

There are 5 Primary phases of 5s: sorting, straightening, systematic cleaning, standardising, and sustaining. Additionally, there are two other phases sometimes included safety and security.

Sorting (Seiri)

Eliminates all unnecessary tools, parts and instruction. Go through all tools, materials and so forth in the plant work area, Keep only essential items and eliminate what is not required, prioritising things as per requirements and keeping them in easily- accessible places. Everything else is stored or discarded.

Straightening or setting in order (Seiton)

There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. The place for each item should be clearly labelled or demarcated. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient work flow, with equipment used most often being the most easily accessible. Workers should not have to bend repetitively to access materials. Each tool, part, supply or piece of equipment should be kept close to where it is being used- in other words straightening the flow path. Seiton is one of the features that distinguishes 5S from “standardised clean-ups”, This phase can also be referred as simplifying.

Sweeping or Shining or cleanliness/ systematic cleaning (Seiso)

Keep the workplace tidy and organised.At the end of each shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and ensure that everything is where it belongs. A Key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be a part of the daily work – not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.

Standardising (Seiketsu)

Work Practices should be consistent and standardised. All work stations should be identical. All employees should be able to work in any station doing the same job with the same tools that are in the same location in every station. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3 Ss.

Sustaining the discipline or elf-discipline ( Shitsuke)

Maintain and review standards. Once the previous 4Ss have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. When an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4Ss and make changes as appropriate.


A sixth phase, “Safety” is sometimes added, There is a debate over whether including this sixth “S” promotes safety by stating this value, explicitly, or if a comprehensive safety program is undermined when it is relegated to a single item in an efficiency-focused business methodology.


A Seventh Phase, “ Security” can also be added, In order to leverage security as an investment rather than an expense, the seventh “S” identifies and Addresses risks to key business categories including fixed assets (PP&E), Material, human capital, brand equity, intellectual property, information technology, assists in transit and the extended supply chain.

It is important to have continuous education about maintaining standards. When there are changes that affect the 5S program such as new equipment, new products or new work rule, it is essential to make changes in the standards and provide training. Companies embracing 5S often use posters and signs as a way of educating employees and maintaining standards.

Five (5) Whys

Root cause Analysis – Taiichi Ohno’s practise of asking why five times whenever a problem was encountered, In order to identify the root cause of the problem so that effective countermeasures could be developed and implemented. Used along with other problem-solving tools, enables you to derive the proper corrective action. IS a question asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately the goal of applying the 5 why’s method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem.

Keep in mind the following key phrase as a background thought in any 5 why exercise: People do not fail, processes do!

Flexible Machining Centres

Flexible Machining Centres are automated machining equipment that can be rapidly reprogrammed to accommodate small-lot production of a variety of product or component configurations.

Flexible Manufacturing Systems

Flexible Manufacturing Systems are automated manufacturing equipment and/or cross- trained work teams that can accommodate small –lot production or part configurations. From an equipment standpoint. An FMS is typically a group of more than two computer- based machine tools with integrated material handling, able to produce a family of similar parts.


Flow is the progressive achievement of tasks along the value stream so that product proceeds from design to launch, order to delivery, and raw material into the hand of the customer with no stoppages, scrap, or backflows.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis is a procedure used to identify and assess risks associated with a potential product or process failure modes. Finite capacity scheduling- software-based systems that enable simulation of production scheduling ( and determination of delivery dates) based on actual unit/hour capacity at each step in the production routing. Finite scheduling systems, running on desktop computers, often compensate for the “infinite capacity” assumptions built into capacity-planning modules in traditional MRP 11 systems.

Focused Improvement teams

(Kaizen Teams) – See Kaizen


Gemba (Go & See)

Gemba is the Japanese term meaning “raja raja chozan” or the “real place”. In business, gemba refers to the place where the value is created; in manufacturing, gemba is the factory floor, It can be any “site” such as construction site, sales floor or where the service provider interacts directly with the customer.

In Lean Manufacturing the idea of gemba is that the problems are visible, and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the gemba, The gemba walk, much like MBWA or Management by Walking Around is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice gemba kaizen or practical shop floor improvement.

In Quality management, gemba means the manufacturing floor and the idea is that if a problem occurs, the engineers must go there to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all source. Unlike focus groups and surveys, gemba visits are not scripted or bound by what one wants to ask.

Glenn Mazur introduced this term in the Quality Function Deployment (QFD, a quality system for new products where manufacturing has not begun) to mean the customers’ place of business or lifestyle. The idea is that to be customer – driven, one must go to the customer’s gemba to understand his problems and opportunities, using all one’s senses to gather and process data.


Gembutsu is an actual item or real thing.


Genjitsu is reality.



HEIJUNKA or production smoothing, is a technique to adapt production to naturally fluctuating customer demand. The Japanese word HEIJUNKA (pronounced hey June Kah) means literally “make flat and level”. Customer demand must be met with the customer’s preferred delivery times, but customer demand is “bumpy”, while factories prefer “level” or stable production. So a manufacturer needs to try and smooth out these bumps in production.

Heijunka is a Kanban card post-box system that is usually at the pacemaker process, A Heijunka box provides process level scheduling, pacing, schedule visibility, and early problem highlighting. Levelled production is customer order averaging so that the small sequence cycles produce the required volume and product mix. In a Heijunka box, customer monthly or weekly volume demands can be levelled into daily demands. Pull systems and Heijunka works well hand-in-hand. However, system improvements may be needed for success, Eg through quick change over. When the visual system indicates a problem, prompt identification and correction are absolutely essential.

Hoshin Kanri Policy deployment

Hoshin Kanri Policy deployment is a strategic decision-making tool that focuses resources on the critical initiatives necessary to accomplish the business objectives of the firm. Using visual matrix diagrams, three to five key objectives are selected while all others are clearly deselected. The selected objectives are translated into specific projects and deployed down to the implementation level in the firm- see genba kanri. Progress toward the key objectives is then measured on a regular basis against clear targets. “Hoshin” Translates literally as shining metal or more poetically as the glint from the spear of a forward guide that leads the way and “kanri” means control.

Hosin Planning

Hosin Planning are policy management or strategy deployment. A method for establishing goals (and Policy which supports and enhances those goals) and ensuring that these goals are the primary focus of the organisation.



Improvement as a part of a successful Kaizen strategy “improvement” goes beyond the dictionary definition of the word. Improvement is a mindset of maintaining and improving standards. In a still broader sense, improvement can be defined as Kaizen and innovation, where a Kaizen strategy maintains and improves working standards through small, gradual improvements, and innovation calls for radical improvements as a result of large investment in technology, process and/or equipment. The Kaizen strategy clearly delineates responsibilities: Workers are to maintain standards and managers are to improve standards. The Japanese perception of management boils down to one precept: maintain and improve standards

Ishikawa or Fishbone Diagrams

Ishikawa or Fishbone Diagrams are diagrams that show the causes of a certain event- created by Karou Ishikawa (1990). Common uses of the Ishikawa diagram are product design and quality prevention, to identify potential factors causing an overall effect. Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variations. The categories typically include:

  • People – Anyone involved with the process
  • Methods– How the process is performed and the specific requirements for doing it, such as policies, procedures, rules, regulations and laws
  • Machines – Any equipment, computer, tolls etc required to accomplish the job.
  • Materials– Raw materials, parts, pens, paper, etc. used t produce the final product Measurements: Data generated from the process that is used to evaluate its quality
  • Environment – THE conditions, such as location, time, temperature, and culture in which the process operates.

ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is a series of generic environmental management standards developed by the International Organization of Standardization which provides structure and systems for managing environmental compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements and affect every aspect of a company’s environmental operations.

ISO 9000

ISO 9000 is an internal quality process auditing program, based on a series of standards published by the International Organization of Standardization in Geneva, Switzerland through which manufacturing plants receive certification attesting that their stated quality processes adhere to in practise.



Jidohka is a Japanese word which translates as autonomation, a form of automation in which machinery automatically inspects each team after producing it, ceasing production and notifying humans if a defect is detected; Toyota expands the meaning of jidohka to include the responsibility of all workers to function similarly, i.e. to check every item produced and make no more if a defect is detected, until the cause of the defect has been identified and corrected.

Jishu Kanri

Jishu Kanri is self management or voluntary Participation.


Jishuken is kaizen with outside help – a “ fresh pair of eyes” approach to Kaizen to complement the improvement ideas of those carrying out production tasks day-by-day. Outsiders (for example, from a customer) help the production team to eliminate waste. Process improvement engineers going into suppliers are sometimes described as Jishuken teams.

JIT/ Continuous

Flow Production – Implementation of “just in time” techniques to reduce lot size, reduces set up times, slash work-in progress inventory, minimise nonvalue-added activities, improve throughput, and reduce manufacturing cycle time. JIT production typically involves use of “pull” signals to initiate production activity, in contrast to work- order (push) systems in which production scheduling typically is based on forecasted demand rather than actual orders. In many”pull” systems, a customer order/shipment date triggers final assembly, which in turn forces replenishment of components WIP inventory at upstream stages of production.


Just-in-Time is a system for delivering the right items at the right time in the right amounts. Just-in-Time approaches just-on-time when upstream activities occur minutes or seconds before down-stream activities, so single–piece flow is possible.


Jutsu is the art of something (i.e. Lean jutsu: the art of lean production).



Kaikaku is the radical Improvement of an activity to eliminate Muda, single piece flow in small space. Reduce travel by co – locating related activities. (Also called breakthrough Kaizen, flow kaizen and system kaizen).


Kaizen is the systematically organised improvement of processes by those who operate them, using straightforward methods of analysis. It is a “do it now” approach to continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less Muda. Kaizen establishes what needs to be done and instils the principles of continuous improvement.(Also called point kaizen, process kaizen or blitz).


Japanese for “Improvement” or “change for better”, refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of the process in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business process, and management. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking and many other industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, Kaizen refers to the activities that continually improve all functions, and involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line worker. It also applies to processes such as purchasing and logistics that cross organisational boundaries into the supply chain. By improving standardised activities and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste. Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, Influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country. It has since spread throughout the world and is now being implemented in many other venues besides just business and productivity.

Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanises the workplace, eliminates overly hard work (“muri”) and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in the business process. IN all, Process suggests a humanised approach to workers and to increase productivity: “The idea is to nurture the company’s human resource as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities”. Successful implementation requires “ the participation of workers in the improvement”. People at all levels of an organisation participate in Kaizen from the CEO down to janitorial staff, as well as external stakeholders when applicable. The format for Kaizen can be an individual, suggestion system, small group or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the Kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor’s key role. Kaizen on a broad cross-departmental scale in companies, generate total quality management and frees human efforts through improving productivity using machines and computer power.

Kaizen Events

Kaizen Events are different from Kaizen, though the aim of both is to make a change for the better! Kaizen is a long-term business commitment and is about creating a culture of improvement amongst the team and making small changes which, over time, equate to a much larger overall change. A Kaizen Event is a short-term (3-5 days usually) initiative that has a pre-determined start and end point and involves a small team looking at a very specific thing. A Kaizen Event is a concentrated effort, focused on a specific process or area and has a small team charged with evaluating and looking for ways to improve it. In the same way that a large Kaizen initiative can be used to gain improvement suggestions from the team, a Kaizen Event can be an ideal opportunity to improve a particular process.

The most common goals of Kaizen Events are:

  • To gather a team of specialist operators, managers and owners of a process into one place at the same time
  • To map an existing process in its current state
  • To use the insight and expertise of the team to improve the existing process
  • To solicit buy-in from all parties involved in the process to improve it

Kamishi Bai

Kamishi Bai is a T Card System of process confirmation, used throughout the levels of the business to ensure standards are adhered to.


Kanban literally mean “ Signboard” or “billboard”, is a concept related to lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. According to Taiichsi Ohno, the man credited with developing just-in-time, Keban is one means through which JIT is achieved.

Kanban is a card or signboard that is attached to specific parts in the production line signifying the delivery of a given quantity. The quantity authorised per individual Kanban is minimal, ideally one. The number of circulating or available Kanban is determined by the demand rate for the item and the time required to produce or acquire more. This number generally is established and remains unchanged unless demand or other circumstances are altered dramatically; In this way, inventory is kept under control while production is forced to keep pace with shipment volume. A routine exception to this rule is that managers and workers are continually exhorted to improve their processes and thereby reduce the number of Kanban required.

When fully implemented, Kanban ( the plural is the same as the singular) operates according to the following rules:

All production and movement of parts and material take place only required by a downstream operation, i.e. all manufacturing and procurement are ultimately driven by the requirements of final assembly or the equivalent.

Kanban has various formats and contents as appropriate for their usage; for example, a Kanban for a vendor is different that a Kanban for an internal machining operation.

Kanban is not an inventory control system, Rather, it is a scheduling system that tells you what to produce, when to produce it and how to produce.

The need to maintain a high rate of improvements led Toyota to devise the Kanban system Kanban became an effective tool to support the running of the production system as a whole. In addition, it provided to be an excellent way for promoting improvements because reducing the number of Kanban in circulation highlighted problem areas.

Kanban Cards

Kanban cards are a key component of Kanban that utilizes cards to signal the need to move materials within a manufacturing or production facility or move materials from an outside supplier to the production facility, The Kanban card is, in effect a message that signals depletion of product, parts or inventory that when received will trigger the replenishment of that product, part or inventory. Consumption drives demand for more.

Demand for more is signalled by Kanban card. Kanban cards thus, in effect help to create the demand-driven system. It is widely espoused by proponents of Lean production and manufacturing that demand driven systems lead to faster turnarounds in production and lower inventory levels, helping companies implementing such systems to be more competitive. Kanban cards, in keeping with the principles of Kanban, should simply convey the need for more material. A red card lying in an empty parts card would easily convey to whomever it would concern that more parts are needed.

In the last few years Electronic Kanban Systems, which send Kanban signals electronically, have become more widespread. While this is leading to a reduction in the use of Kanban cards in aggregate, it is not uncommon in modern Lean production facilities to find the widespread usage of Kanban cards.

Kanban Electronic System

Many manufacturers have implemented electronic Kanban systems. Electronic Kanban systems, or E-Kanban systems, help to eliminate common problems such as manual entry errors and lost cards. E-Kanban systems can be integrated into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Integrating E-Kanban systems into ERP systems allows for real-time demand signalling across the supply chain and improved visibility. Data pulled from E-Kanban Systems can be used to optimise inventory levels by better tracking supplier lead and replenishment times.

Kanban Operation

Kanban Operation is an important determinant of the success of production scheduling based on “pushing” the demand is the quality of the demand forecast that can receive such “push”. Kanban, by contrast, is part of an approach of receiving the “pull” from the demand. Therefore, the supply or production is determined according to the actual demand of the customers. In contexts where supply time is lengthy and demand is difficult to forecast, the best one can do is respond quickly to observed demand.

This is exactly what a Kanban system can help with: It is used as a demand signal that immediately propagates through the supply chain. This can be used to ensure that intermediate stocks held in the supply chain are better managed, usually smaller. Where the supply response cannot be quick enough to meet actual demand fluctuations, causing significant lost sales, then stock building may be deemed as appropriate which can be achieved by issuing more Kanban. Taiichi Ohno states that to be effective Kanban must follow strict rules of use (4)( Toyota, for example, has six rules below) and that close monitoring of these rules is a never-ending task to ensure that Kanban does what is required.

Kanban Signal

Kanban Signal is a method of signalling supplier sot upstream production when it is time to replenish limited stocks of components or subassemblies in a just-in-time system. Originally a card system used in Japan, Kanban now includes empty containers, empty spaces and even electronic messages.

Kanban – Three bin systems

Kanban is a simple example of the Kanban system implementation might be a “three –bin system” for the supplied parts one bin on the factory floor (demand point) one bin in the factory store and one bin at the supplier’s store. The bins usually have a removable card that contains the product details and other relevant information – the Kanban card.

When the bin on the factory floor becomes empty, i.e. there is a demand for parts, the empty bin and Kanban cards are returned to the factory store. The factory store then replaces the bin on the factory floor with a full bin, which also contains a  Kanban card. The factory store then contacts the supplier’s store and returns the now empty bin with its Kanban card. The supplier’s inbound product bin with its Kanban card is then delivered to the factory store completing the final step to the system.

Thus the process will never run out of product and could be described as a loop, providing the exact amount required, with only one spare so there will never be an oversupply. This “spare” bin allows for the uncertainty in supply, use and transport that are inherent in the system. The secret to a good Kanban system is to calculate how many Kanban cards are required for each product. Most factories using Kanban use the coloured board system (Heijunka Box). This consists of a board created especially for holding the Kanban cards.


Lead Time

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


Lean emphasises the learning by doing approach, where members of a process improvement team are those most closely associated with adding value to the product. The whole process is based on a defining customer value, focusing on the value stream, making value flow, and letting customers determine the product or service they want with a relentless pursuit of perfection in a timely manner at an appropriate price. We identify the value they want, with a relentless pursuit of perfection in a timely manner at an appropriate price. We identify the value stream as a process.or series of steps, from concept to launch to production, and then the order to delivery and the disposition; in other words from the raw materials to delivery of the finished product to the customer. Value stream steps can be a value added, or non-value-added-but-necessary. Lean emphasises the elimination or reduction of steps that do not have value. We start with the customer’s request, strive for no interruptions or waste, avoid batch processing and strive for smooth just-in-time one-piece flow.

Lean Enterprise

Lean Enterprise are all aspects of an organisation, from the beginning of the supply chain, thru the production process and including your customer base. As you ”Lean” your organisation, you will find that certain constraints exist outside of your company. These constraints must be dealt with in order to further improve operations, so the supply chain, regulatory authorities, and even your customer must be involved in your lean efforts.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing is the philosophy of continually reducing waste in all areas and in all forms; an English phrase coined to summarise Japanese manufacturing techniques( Specifically, the Toyota Production System).

Level Scheduling

Level Scheduling is the sequencing of orders in a repetitive pattern and smoothing the day-to-day variations in total orders.

Life Cycle Costing

Life Cycle Costing is the identification, evaluation, tracking and accumulation of actual costs for each product from its initial research and development through final customer servicing and support in the field.

Line Balancing

Line Balancing is the equalising cycle times [productive capacity, assuming 100% capacity utilisation] for relatively small units of the manufacturing process, through the proper assignment of workers and machines; ensures smooth production flow.


Machine Availability Rate

Machine Availability Rate is the percent of the time that production equipment is available for use, divided by the maximum time it would be available if there were no downtime for repair or unplanned maintenance.

Manufacturing Cells

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

Manufacturing Cost

Manufacturing Cost includes quality related costs, direct and indirect labour, equipment repair and maintenance, other manufacturing support and overhead, and other costs directly associated with manufacturing operations. It does not include purchased material costs or costs related to sales and other nonproduction functions.

Manufacturing Cycle Time

Manufacturing Cycle Time is the length of time from the start of production and assembly operations for a particular (finished) product to the completion of all manufacturing, assembly, and testing for that product or specific customer order. Does not include front-end-order-entry time or engineering time spent on the customized configuration of non-standard items.

Mistake Proofing

Mistake Proofing is a manufacturing technique of providing a signal when an error is about to be introduced into the production process. Many times, this is the form of a checklist.

Mixed Model Production

Mixed Model Production is the capability to produce a variety of models, that in fact differ in labour and material content, on the same production line; allows for efficient utilisation of resources while providing rapid response to marketplace demands.


Mizusumashi is the classic water spider, who performs a wide range of tasks which allow workers to perform ”Value added tasks”.


Mokeru is the Japanese term for the industrial engineering, more properly translated as profit- making.

MRP 11

MRP 11 is software- based Manufacturing Resource Planning Systems that translate forecast into master production schedules, maintain bills of material (lists of components), create work orders for each step in the production routing, track inventory levels, coordinate materials purchases with production requirements, generate  “exception” reports identifying expected material shortages or other potential production problems, record shop floor data for financial reporting purposes, and other tasks depending on the configuration of the MRP 11 Package.

Muda (Waste)

Muda are activities and results to be eliminated. Muda is often referred to as ‘The Eight Wastes’ and here at Clarity, we talk about TIM WOODS:

T – Transport – Moving people, products & information – Inventory – Storing parts, pieces, documentation ahead of requirements M – Motion – Bending, turning, reaching, lifting

W – Waiting – For parts, information, instructions, equipment O – Overproduction – Making more than is IMMEDIATELY required O – Over processing – Tighter tolerances or higher grade materials than are necessary D – Defects – Rework, scrap, incorrect documentation S – Skills – Underutilising capabilities, delegating tasks with inadequate training

There are two types of Muda that are literally called Type-1 Muda and Type-2 Muda. In both these types its something which fails to add value to the customer:

  • Type-1 Muda – these are non-value added tasks that are necessary for the system to function. You should minimise this until you can eliminate it completely
  • Type-2 Muda – these are non-value and unnecessary, these should be the first things you start to eliminate from your processes



Nagara is the smooth production flow, ideally on the piece at a time, Characterised by synchronisation [Balancing] of the production process and maximum utilisation of available time, including overlapping of operations where practical.


Nemawashi is the Japanese have very different ways of conducting a business meeting. Before formal meeting starts, participants have already drawn conclusions regarding information to be presented at the meeting. This is called Nemawashi (prior consultation). The original meaning of the word is to smooth around the roots before planting. This system was developed to avoid discrepancies, and gain agreement from everyone in advance when making a decision in formal Meetings. It is also to keep the relationship harmonious. Nemawashi is best used to let people of differing opinions have time to adjust their opinions. When the principles of Nemawashi are put into effect first, people have the time to adjust opinions beforehand without wasting time. The main fear people have of Nemawashi is its use in politics. People are worried that decisions are sometimes made behind the scenes instead of out in the open. It is therefore seen as an undemocratic process.


Ninjutsu is the art of invisibility (applies to management).

Non-Value Added

Non-Value Added are those actions in the workplace that the customer is not willing to pay for. Activities which are essential tasks that have to be done under present working conditions but don’t add value to the product (sometimes referred to as required waste). The desire is to either minimise these activities or introduce process improvements that would eliminate them entirely.



OEE is a total measure of performance that relates the availability of process to the productivity and quality.

One-Piece Flow

One-Piece Flow describes the sequence of a product or transactional activities (e.g., insurance claims), through a process one unit at a time. In contrast batch processing creates a large number of products or works on a large number of transactions at one time – sending them together as a group through each operational step. In one-piece flow, the focus is on the product or the transactional process, rather than on the waiting, transporting, and storage of either. One-piece flow methods need short changeover times and are conducive to a pull system.

One–Piece flow advantages are:

  • Reduced customer to order shipment
  • Reduction of work in progress
  • Early Detection of defects
  • Increased flexibility for customer products/ transactional demands
  • Reduced operation costs through exposure/ elimination of non-value added waste
  • A project process improvement could be a work flow change that reduces the batch size or changes from batch processing to a single-piece flow.


Operation is an activity or activities performed on a product by a single machine or operator.


Pareto Chart

Pareto Chart is a tool (histogram or vertical bar chart) used for analysing the relative occurrence of defects, developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto A.D 1900. Pareto’s law refers to Pareto’s observation that wealth distribution generally follows a pattern where 20% of people control 80% of all wealth, This principle has been generalised to show that in general,20% of categories contain 80% of the data, and hence is also known as the 80/20 rule.

PDCA Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

PDCA Cycle is an adaptation of the Dening wheel. While the Deming wheel stresses the need for constant interaction among research, design, production, and sales, the PDCA cycle asserts that every managerial action can be improved by careful application of the sequence: plan, do, check, act.

It is an iterative four –step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement. It is also known as the Deming Circle, Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, Deming wheel control circle or cycle, or plan-do-study-act (PDSA)


Establish the objectives and process necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output. By making the expected output the focus, it differs from other techniques in that the completeness and accuracy of the specification are also part of the improvement.


Implement the new process. Often on a small scale if possible.


Measure the new process and compare the results against the expected results to ascertain any differences.


Analyse the differences to determine their cause. Each will be part of either one or more of the P-D-C-A steps. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvements. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, refine the scope to which PDCA is applied until there is a plan that involves improvement.


The complete elimination of Muda so that all activities along a value stream create value.

Poka –Yoke

Poka –Yoke ( Error Proofing) – Jidoka or autonomation is a term used in the Lean process that means automation with a human touch, which applies in the following four principles:

  • Detect the Abnormality
  • Stop
  • Fix or correct the immediate condition
  • Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure.

Poka- Yoke is designed to stop the movement of the component to the next station by using “fail-safe” techniques to eliminate errors or quality- related production defects as far upstream in the process as possible.

Example: Requiring completed components to pass through a customised opening to ensure that dimensions do not exceed tolerance limits. Also, includes methods to check equipment operating conditions prior to making a part. A major objective is to minimise the need for rework.

A poka-yoke is a mechanism that works with Jidoka to either prevent a mistake or make a mistake obvious at a glance; for example, an operator who creates customized assemblies from small bins in front of him : One approach would be to give the operator a list of parts to assemble by taking them as needed from the bin. This approach can lead to assembly errors since he or she might forget to include one of the parts or add parts not specified. A poya-yoke solution might be to install lights on all bins. When the operator is to create a new assembly, the bins that contain the specified parts for the assembly will be illuminated. The operator then systematically removes one part from each bin in front of him. He does this until one part has been removed from each bin and he knows the assembly is complete when no parts remain in front.

Poka -yoke offers solutions to organisations,  that experience frequent discrepancies in the packaging of their products – e.g.  Someone forgot to include instruction or forgot to include a mounting screw. Poke-yoke ideas or devices can be more effective than simple demands on workers to “be more careful”, Improvement focus should always be given to what can be done to error-proof a process more than on inspecting the quality of the finished product.

Policy Deployment

Policy Deployment unifies and aligns resources and establishes clearly measurable targets against which progress toward the key objectives is measured on a regular basis.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive Maintenance is the practice that seeks to prevent unscheduled machinery downtime by collecting and analysing data on equipment conditions. The analysis is then used to predict time-to –failure, plan maintenance and restore machinery to good operating conditions.

Predictive maintenance systems typically measure parameters on machine operations, such as vibration, heat, pressure, noise, and lubricant conditions. In conjunction with computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) predictive maintenance enables repair-work orders to be released automatically, repair parts inventories checked, or routine maintenance scheduled.

Problem Solving Methodologies

Problem Solving Methodologies is a variety of approaches to problem-solving, including the Deeming Circle (Plan-DO_Check-Act), used by all persons working in the same team or organisation. Considered fundamental to team work.

Problem Solving Methodologies Is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, Problem-solving has been defined as a higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem-solving occurs when an organism or an artificial intelligence system needs to move from a given state to the desired goal state.


Process is a series of individual operation required to create a design, completed order or product.

Processing Time

Processing Time is the time a product is actually being worked on in design or production and the time an order is actually processed. Typically processing time is a small fraction of throughput time and lead time.

Productivity Increase

Productivity Increase is the primary definition here is the “plant-wide increase in annual value-added per employee, based on total employment, not just direct labour”. Value added should be calculated by subtracting the cost of purchased materials and services from the value of shipments. The best plant entry form also includes a secondary calculation, which many manufacturers prefer to use: increase in sales per employee. ”where possible, Best plant candidates should compute and report five-year productivity increases using both calculations.


Pull is a system of cascading production and delivery instructions from downstream to upstream activities in which nothing is produced by the upstream supplier until the downstream customers signal a need.


Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

A customer – focused approach to quality improvement in which customer needs (desired product or service characteristics) are analysed at the design stage and translated into the specific product and process design requirements for the supplier organisation.

Targeted customer needs may include product features, costs, durability, and other product characteristics. Quality Function Deployment involves carefully listening to the customer’s true unvarnished expression of their needs. Then those needs must be translated into engineering characteristics, competitive assessment, selection of critical/ Key characteristics, the product/process design and follow up. Through this technique, product performance features and characteristics that deliver them are determined by the customer and heed to the producer (by listening and acting). The quality responsibility is the deployed throughout the organisation by tying compliance and activities directly to the fulfilment of these customer requirements.

Quick Changeover

Quick Changeover method is a variety of techniques, such as SMED (single-minutes exchange of dies), which reduces equipment setup time and permit more frequent setups, thus improving flexibility and reducing lot sizes and lead times.


Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Root Cause Analysis Is a class of problem-solving methods aimed at identifying the root causes of problems or incidents. The practice of RCA is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to correct or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms. By directing corrective measures at root causes, it is hoped that the likelihood of problem recurrence will be minimised. However, it is recognised the complete prevention of recurrence by a single intervention is not always possible. Thus, RCA is often considered to be an iterative process and is frequently viewed as a tool of continuous improvement. RCA initially is a reactive method of problem detection and solving. This means that the Analysis is done after an incident has occurred. By gaining expertise in RCA it becomes a pro-active method. This means that RCA is able to forecast the possibility of an incident even before it could occur. While one follows the other, RCA is a completely separate process to incident management. Root cause analysis is not a single, sharply defined methodology; there are many different tools, process and philosophies of RCA in existence. However, most of these can be classed into five, very broadly defined “schools”, that are named here by their basic fields of origin: Saftey-based, production-based, process based, failure base, and systems-based.

  • Safety –Based RCA descends from the fields of accident analysis and occupational safety and Health.
  • Production-Based RCA has its origins in the field of quality control for industrial manufacturing
  • Process-based RCA is basically a follow-on to production based RCA, but with a scope that has been expanded to include business processes.
  • Failure-based RCA is rooted in the practice of failure analysis as employed in engineering and maintenance.
  • System-based RCA has emerged as an amalgamation of the preceding schools along with ideas taken from fields such as change management, risk management and system analysis.

Despite the seeming disparity and definition among the various schools of root cause analysis there are some general principles that could be considered as universal. Similarly, it is possible to define a general process for performing RCA.

General Principles of root cause analysis.

The primary aim of RCA is to identify the root cause of a problem in order to create effective corrective actions that will prevent that problem from ever re-occuring, otherwise known as the 100 year fix.

To be effective, RCA must be performed systematically as an investigation, with conclusions and the root cause backed up by documented evidence.

There is always one true root cause for any given problem, the difficult part is having the stamina to reach it.

To be effective the analysis must establish a sequence of events or timeline to understand the relationships between contributory factors, the root cause and the defined problem.

Root cause analysis can help to transform an old culture that reacts to problems into a new culture that solves problems before they escalate but more importantly; reduces the instances of problems occurring over time within the environment where the RCA process is operated.

General process for Performing and documenting an RCA-based corrective action- Notice that RCA(in steps 3,4, and 5) forms the most critical part of successful corrective action, because it directs the corrective action at the true root cause of the problem. The root cause is secondary to the goal of prevention, but without knowing the root cause, we cannot determine what an effective corrective action for the defined problem will be.

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Gather data/evidence.
  3. Ask why and identify the true root cause associated with the defined problem.
  4. Identify corrective action(s) that will prevent recurrence of the problem (your 100 year Fix)
  5. Identify effective solutions that prevent recurrence, are within your control, meet your goals and objectives and do not cause other problems.
  6. Implement the recommendations.
  7. Observe the recommended solutions to ensure effectiveness.
  8. Variability Reduction methodology for problem solving and problem avoidance.

Root Cause Analysis Techniques

Barrier Analysis

A technique often uses in the process industries. It is based on tracing energy flows with a focus on barriers to those flows, to identify how and why barriers did not prevent the energy flows from causing harm.

Causal factor tree analysis

A technique based on displaying casual factors in a tree structure such that cause-effect dependencies are clearly identified.

Change analysis

an investigation technique often used for problems or accidents, It is based on comparing a situation that does not exhibit the problem to one that does, in order to identify the changes or differences that might explain why the problem occurred.

Current Reality Tree

A method developed by Eliahu. M .Goldratt in his theory of constraints that guides an investigator to identify and relate all root causes, and relate to all root causes suing a cause-effect tree whose elements are bound by rules of logic(Categories of Legitimate Reservation). The CRT begins with a brief list of the undesirable things that we see around us, and then guides us towards one or more root causes. This method is particularly powerful when the system is complex, there is no obvious link between the observed undesirable things, and a deep understanding of the root cause (s) is desired.

RPR Problem Diagnosis

An INTIL- aligned method for diagnosing IT Problems.

Common Cause Analysis (CCA) & Common Modes Analysis (CMA)

Envolve engineering techniques for complex technical systems to determine if common root causes in hardware, software of highly integrated systems interaction may contribute to human error or improper operation of a system. Systems are analysed for root causes and casual factors to determine probability of failure modes, fault modes, or common software faults due to escaped requirements. Also ensuring complete testing and verification are methods used for ensuring complex systems are designed with no common causes that cause sever hazards. Common cause analysis are sometimes required as part of the safety engineering tasks for theme parks, commercial / Military aircraft, spacecraft, complex control systems, large electrical utility grids, nuclear power plants, automates industrial controls, medical devices or other safety safety-critical systems with complex functionality.

Basic Elements of Root Causes


  1. Defective raw materials
  2. Wrong type for job
  3. Lack of raw material

Man Power

  1. Inadequate capability
  2. Lack of Knowledge
  3. Lack of skill
  4. Stress
  5. Improper motivation


  1. Incorrect tool selection
  2. Poor Maintenance or design
  3. Poor equipment or tool placement
  4. Defective Equipment


  1. Orderly workplace
  2. Job design or layout of work
  3. Surfaces poorly maintained
  4. Physical demands of the task
  5. Force of Nature


  1. No or poor management involvement
  2. Inattention to task
  3. Task hazards not guarded properly
  4. Other ( horseplay, Inattention)
  5. Stress demands
  6. Lack of process
  7. Lack of Communication


  1. No or poor procedures
  2. Practices are not the same as written procedures
  3. Poor communication

Management System

  1. Training or education lacking
  2. Poor employee involvement
  3. Poor recognition of hazard
  4. Previously identified hazards were not eliminated

Route Map

Route Map is the strategic planning tool uses to translate the goals and vision of an organisation into a long term workable strategic plan.


SDCA Cycle (standardise, do, check, act)

SDCA Cycle is a refinement of the PDCA cycle wherein management decides first to establish the standard before performing the regular PDCA function.


Seiban is the name of a Japanese management practice taken from the Japanese word “sei” which means manufacturing and “ban” which means number. A Seiban number is assigned to all parts, materials and purchase orders associated with a particular customer job or with a project, or anything else. This enables a manufacturer ti track everything with a particular product, project or customer. It also facilitates setting aside inventory for specific projects or priorities. That makes it great for project and build-to-order manufacturing.

Self – Directed Natural Work Teams

Nearly autonomous teams of empowered employees including hourly workers that share a common workspace and/ or responsibility for a particular process or process segment.

Typically such teams have authority for day-to-day production activities and many supervisory responsibilities, such as job assignment, production scheduling, maintenance, materials purchasing, training, Quality assurance, performance appraisals and customer service. Often called “ self –managed “ work teams.


Sensei one who provides information; a teacher, instructor or rabbi.

Setup Time

Set up Time is the work required to change over a machine or process from one item or operation to the next item or operation; can be divided into two types:

  • Internal: setup work that can be done only when the machine or process is not actively engaged in production; Or
  • External: set up work that can be done concurrently with the machine or process performing production duties.

Seven Forms of Muda (Waste)

Seven Forms of Muda is Taiichi Ohno’s original enumeration of wastes commonly found in physical production. They are overproduction, waiting, over processing, excess inventory, worker movement and production of defective parts.

Seven Quality Tools

Flowcharts, cause and effect Diagrams, check sheets, histograms, Scatter diagrams, Pareto charts, control charts.


Shojinka continually optimizing the number of workers in a work center to meet the type and volume of demand imposed on the work center; Shojinka requires workers trained in multiple disciplines; work center layout, such as U –shaped or circular, that supports a variable number of workers performing the tasks in the layout; the capability to vary the manufacturing process as appropriate to fit the demands of the profile.

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)

Single Minute Exchange of Dies is a series of techniques pioneered by Shigeo Shingo for changeovers of production machinery in less than ten minutes. One-touch set is the term applied when changeovers require less than a minute. Obviously, the long-term objective is always zero set up, in which changeovers are instantaneous and do not interfere in any way with continuous flow. The Key to doing this is frequently the capability to convert internal setup time to external set up time; variations of SMED include:

  • Single Digit Setup: Performing a setup activity in a single-digit number of minutes, i.e. fewer than ten.
  • OTED: One touch exchange of die: literally changing a die with one physical motion such as pushing a button; broadly, an extremely simple task for performing a setup activity.

Single Piece Flow

Single Piece Flow is a situation in which products proceed, one complete product at a time, through various operations in design, order taking, production, without interruptions, backflow or scrap.


Tactical Implementation Plan (TIP)

Tactical Implementation Plan, Derived from the route map, a TIP is a short term plan covering 3-6 months, containing actionable steps to turn strategy into actuality.

Takt Time

Takt, is a German term for rhythm. The available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. Takt time sets the pace of production to match the rate of customer demand and becomes the heartbeat of any lean system. In repetitive operations, the cycle time between completions of units calculated based upon the rate of the need for those units. Used to determine how to set up, revise or improve operations.


Teian is a proposal, proposition, or suggestion. A teian System is a system which encourages and allows workers to actively propose and implement no-cost and low-cost process improvements ( see SOIKUFU)

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


Total Cost of Quality

Total Cost of Quality is the aggregate cost of poor quality or product failures- including scrap, rework, and warranty costs- as well as expenses incurred to prevent or resolve quality problems(including the cost of inspection). In calculations for Best Plants entries, do not include costs of normal maintenance, quality training, or quality-related equipment upgrades.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total Productive Maintenance is a comprehensive program to maximise equipment availability in which production operators are trained to perform routine maintenance tasks on a regular basis, while technicians and engineers handle more specialised tasks. The scope it TPM programs includes maintenance prevention ( through design or selection of easy to service equipment), equipment improvements, preventative maintenance, and predictive maintenance (determining when to replace components before the y fail).

Total Quality Control (TQC)

Total Quality Control is the organised Kaizen activities involving everyone in the company-managers and workers- in totally integrated effort toward improving performance at every level. This improved performance is directed toward satisfying such cross- functional goals- as quality, cost, scheduling, manpower, development, and new product development. It is assumed that these activities ultimately lead to increased customer satisfaction. ( Also referred to as CWQC- Company Wide Quality Control.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

A Multifaceted, company –wide approach to improving all aspects of quality and customer satisfaction- including fast response and service, as well as product quality. TQM begins with top management and diffused responsibility to all employees and managers who can have an impact on quality and customer satisfaction. IT uses a variety of quality tools as QFD, Taguchi methods, SPC, Corrective-action response teams, cause and effect analysis, problem –solving methodologies and fail-saving.


Changed from true form, Toyoda, meaning abundant rice filed, by the Toyota marketing department. Toyoda is the family name of the founders of the Toyota Motor Company.

Toyota Production System

Toyota Production System, see “Lean Production”

Training within Industry (TWI)

The (TWI) service was created by the United States Department of War, running from 1940 to 1945 within the War Manpower Commission. The purpose was to provide consulting services to war-related industries whose personnel were being conscripted into the US Army at the same time the War Department was issuing orders for additional material. It was apparent that the shortage of trained and skilled personnel at precisely the time that they were needed most would impose a hardship on those industries, and that only improved methods of training would address the shortfall. By the end of World War 2 =, over 1.6 million workers in over 16,500 plants had received a certification.


The four basic training programs (10 hour Sessions) developed by the TWI were developed in an emergency situation by experts on loan from private industry. Because of the intensity of the situation, a large number of experimental methods were tried and discarded. This resulted in the distilled, concentrated set of programs. Each of the 10-hour programs had introductory programs called “ Appreciation Sessions” that were used to sell the programs to top management and introduce the programs to middle management of a company. Each of these 10- hour Session programs had “Train the Trainer” programs and handbooks called “Institute Conductors Manual” for the master trainers. The TWI service also developed a number of “Staff Only” training programs to support staff development and to improve the implementation Success,

The TWI trainers had to be invited to a factory in order to present their material. In order to market the service, they developed the Five needs of the Supervisor: every supervisor needs to have the knowledge of the work, knowledge of Responsibility, Skill in Instructing, Skills in Improving Methods and Skill in Leading. Each programme was based on Charles Allen’s 4-pont method of preparation, Presentation, Application and Testing.

The 10 Hour sessions Were:

Job Instruction (JI) a course that taught trainers (supervisors and experienced workers) to train inexperienced workers and get them up to speed faster. The instructors were taught to break down jobs into closely defined steps, show the procedures while explaining the Key points and the reason for the key points, then watch students attempt under close coaching, and finally to gradually wean the student from the coaching. The course emphasised the credo, “ if the worker hasn’t learned, the instructor hasn’t taught”.

Job Methods (JM) a course that taught workers to objectively evaluate the efficiency of their jobs and to methodically evaluate and suggest improvements. The course also worked with a job breakdown, but students were taught to analyse each step and determine if there were sufficient reason to continue to do it in that way by asking a series of pointed question. If they determined some steps could be done better by Eliminating, Combining, Rearranging, or Simplifying, they were to develop and apply the new method to selling it to the “boss” and co-workers, obtaining approval based on safety, quality, quantity and cost, standardizing the new method, and giving “credit where credit is due”.

Job Relations (JR) a course that taught supervisors to deal with workers effectively and fairly. It emphasised the lesson, “people must be treated as Individuals”.

Program Development (PD) the meta course that taught those with responsibility for training function to assist the line organisation in solving production problem s through training.

There was also a short-lived course that taught union personnel to work effectively with management

Relationship to Lean

Although the TWI program funding for application of the programs in the USA by the government ended in 1945, the US government did fund the introduction to the war-torn nations of Europe and Asia. Several private groups continued to provide TWI in the US and abroad. Channing Dooley, Walter Dietz, Mike Kane and Bill Conover( Collectively known as the four horsemen) continued the development of the “j” programs by establishing the TWI Foundation. This group was responsible for continuing the spread of TWI throughout Europe and Asia. The Director of one of the district offices established TWI, Inc, and was hired by the US Government to provide TWI training in Japan. It was especially well received in Japan, where TWI formed the basis of the kaizen culture in the industry. Kaizen, known by such names as Quality Circle in the West, was successfully harnessed by Toyota Motor Corporation in conjunction with the Lean or just in time principles of Taiichi Ohno. In fact, in the foreword to Dinero’s book “training within industry” (2005) John Shook relates a story in which Toyota trainer brought out an old copy of a TWI service manual to prove to him that American workers at NUMI could be taught using the “Japanese” methods used at Toyota. Thus TWI was the forerunner of what is today regarded as a Japanese creation.

TMI has a direct impact on the development and use of Kaizen and standard work at Toyota. These fundamental elements are embedded within the functional systems at Toyota and Job instruction is taught and used within Toyota today. The Kaizen methodology is a direct descendant of job methods, and most likely Job relations had an impact on the development and function of the Team and Group Leader structure in Toyota.

Many of the points above should look familiar to students of W. Edwards Deming: The PDCA style of training programs, the JI litany about failure being on the shoulders of the instructor, and even the JI and JM methods themselves. Deming lectures frequently included a statement similar to the JR Slogan,  “People Must Be Treated As Individuals”.

In Dineros’s introduction, he goes as far as saying that one of the key differences between more and less successful Lean projects was their focus on the “people element” during implementation.




Value is a capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer. The more a product or service meets a customer’s needs in terms of affordability, availability and Utility the greater value it has. Thus a product with a true value will enable, or provide the capability for, the customer to accomplish his objectives.


Value is a measure if the worth of a specific product or service by a customer, and is a function of:

  • The product’s usefulness in satisfying a customer need
  • The relative importance of the need being satisfied,
  • The availability of the product relative to when it is needed and
  • The cost of ownership to the customer. Value added- A type of process(accomplished correctly the first time) that changes (transforms) the shape or character (fit, form or function) of a product or assembly.

Value Added

Value Added are those production steps that transform raw materials directly into the features for which the customer assigns value.

Value Stream

Value Stream is 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 (VSM)

Identification of all the specific activities occurring along a value stream for a product or product family. It is a lean manufacturing technique used to analyse the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer. At Toyota, where the technique originated it is known as “material and information flow mapping”. It can be used in any process that needs an improvement.


Identify the target product, product family or service.

Draw a current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays and information flows required to deliver the target product or service. This may be a production flow( raw materials to consumer) or a design flow (concept to launch). They are standard symbols for representing supply chain entities.

Access the current state value stream map in terms of creating flow by eliminating waste.

Draw a future state value stream map

Work towards the future state condition

Where is it used

Value stream mapping is a helpful method that can be used in Lean environments to identify opportunities for improvement in lead time. Although value stream mapping is often associated with manufacturing, it is also used in logistics, supply chain, service related industries, healthcare, software development and product development. In a build-to the-standard from Shigeo Shingo suggest that the value –adding steps be drawn across the centre of the map and the non-value-adding steps are represented in vertical lines at right angles to the value stream. Thus the activities become easily separated into the value stream which is the focus of one type of attention and the waste steps another type. He calls the value stream the process and the non-value stream the operations. The thinking here is that the non-value-adding steps are often preparatory or tidying up to the value-adding steps and are closely associated with the person or machine/ workstations that execute that value-adding steps. Therefore each vertical line is the story of a person or workstation whilst the horizontal line represents the “story” of the product being created. The goal is to create a map, with minimum delay, while observing the target process in the situation. Thus, value stream maps are usually drawn by hand in pencil to keep the mapping process simple and allow for simple correction.


Vision Control

Visual Control is 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. Also, the use of signals, charts, measurements, diagrams, lights and signs all too clearly define the normal.

Visual Management (VM)

Visual Management is both a tool and a concept. The ideal state is that all employees, operators and managers should be able to manage every aspect of the process at a glance, using visual data, signals and guides. Visual management can address both visual display and control. Visual displays present information, while visual control focuses on a need to act. Information needs to address items such as schedules, standard work and quality and maintenance requirements. Visual control can address whether a production line in running according to plan; it can highlight problems.

Visual Workplace

A Visual workplace is a work area that is self –explaining, self-regulating and self-Managing. Where what is supposed to happen does happen: on time, every day.

Characteristics of a Visual Workplace- Physical impediments to effective processing are removed- Processes are tightly linked and logically ordered. For example:

  • Tool and fixtures have homes – no Searching
  • Information and material travel together
  • Standards are clear and self-explaining