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While most Lean principles focus on improving existing processes, 3P is a bit more proactive. This acronym stands for the alliterative tongue-twister “Production Preparation Process,” but more simply it refers to a process for developing a new product alongside the process that will be used to manufacture said product in greater quantities.
Concurrent development allows the product design to influence its manufacturing process and vice versa, which inevitably generates new insights on how to improve the product or how to streamline its production. These insights are also easier to implement under 3P, as they emerge during the design phase and not the production phase, where reworking a process to be more efficient may cost significant amounts of money and require shutting down production processes altogether.
Best of all, 3P elicits input on process and product design from a wide range of disciplines. Workers and supervisors, engineers and stakeholders; during the design process, all of these groups are informed, involved, and ready to offer helpful feedback. Not only does this create a holistic sense of responsibility for the process and product in question, but it also elicits a variety of new ideas on how to reduce waste.