When working to start or expand a lean manufacturing system, you will run across a variety of different terms. If you’re not familiar with them, it can be quite confusing. While no facility uses every one of the terms listed, it is good to at least have a basic understanding of what they mean so you can respond appropriately when they are used. The following are some of the most commonly used lean terms today.
Understanding Lean Terms
- 5S – 5S is a waste identification and elimination system. Along with this term you will likely hear the terms sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. These are the five areas of waste used in 5S.
- Bottleneck Analysis – This is where you identify where in the production process there are limitations that slow things down.
- Continuous Flow – Any manufacturing that flows smoothly throughout the production process with as few delays or buffers being present.
- Gemba – This is a Japanese term meaning ‘the real place’ and refers to a philosophy that encourages managers and supervisors to spend time on the workplace floor to see where the action happens.
- Jidoka – This is a term used to describe partially automated manufacturing processes.
- Just In Time (JIT) – This is a system where all production is generated based on customer demand rather than simply making products and hoping they will sell.
- Kaizen – Kaizen is a continuous improvement strategy that allows employees to work to produce regular improvements, even if they are small, to the processes.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – Any metric that tracks information used to progress toward critical goals.
- Muda – Any step within a manufacturing process that fails to add value from the customer’s perspective.
- PDCA – This is a methodology for implementing improvements. It stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act.
- Poka-Yoke – This Japanese term stands for error proofing, and uses systems to detect errors in the production process so they can be eliminated.
- Root Cause Analysis – A methodology where teams focus on getting to the underlying issues that cause problems rather than just fixing the symptoms.
- Toyota Production System (TPS) – The Toyota Motor Company came up with this manufacturing strategy, and it has been the base for Lean and other systems.
- Value Stream Mapping – Creating a visual representation of where value is added along the production line.
There are other Lean terms that are used, but these are the most common. Anyone who is thinking about implementing, or has already implemented, Lean Manufacturing should have a good understanding of what these terms mean and when they should be used.
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