A Glossary of Lean-Related Terms

5-S: A systematic process of workplace organization created in Japan and named for five Japanese words:


























Autonomation:      A semi-automatic processes in which a line is stopped automatically when a defective part is detected. Also referred to as jidoka.

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

Batch and queue: Overproduction results in items being forwarded to the next operation before they are needed, which creates a queue.

Capacity constraint resources: Instance in which a series of non-bottlenecks, based on their sequence, can act as a constraint

Cells: The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence to permit single-piece flow and flexible deployment of human resources

Chaku-Chaku: A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds with the part from machine to machine.

Constraint: Anything that limits a system from achieving maximum performance or throughput

Current state map: A tool designed to help depict the current production process and recognize sources of waste

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

Functional layout: The grouping of machines or activities by type of operation performed

Heijunka: A method of keeping total manufacturing volume as constant as possible. Also referred to as production smoothing

Kaikaku: Radical improvement. Also referred to as flow kaizen.

Kaizen: Continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less waste. Also referred to as point kaizen and process kaizen.

Lead time: The total time a customer must wait to receive a product after placing an order

Muda: Anything that interrupts the flow of products and services through the value stream and to the customer

Nonvalue-Added:  Actions or processes that add no real value to the product or service, from the customer's perspective

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

Pitch: The pace and flow of a product or part

Poka-yoke: A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacture. Also referred to as baka-yok.

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

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

Quality function deployment: Using a cross-functional team to reach consensus that final engineering specification of a product are in accord with the voice of the customer

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

Quick changeover: The ability to rapidly change tooling and fixtures, enabling multiple products to be run on the same machine

Resource activation: Using a resource regardless of whether throughput is increased

Resource utilization: Using a resource in a way that increases throughput

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

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

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

System kaizen: Improvement aimed at an entire value stream

Takt time: The work sequence of specific tasks, and the minimum inventory of parts on hand needed to conduct the activity. The available production time divided by the rate of customer demand.

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

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

Value-Added analysis: An activity in which a process improvement team strips the process down to its essential elements. The team isolates the activities that, in the eyes of the customer, actually add value to the product or service. The remaining nonvaiue-adding activities ("waste") are targeted for extinction.

Value chain: Activities outside your organization that add value to your final product

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

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

Work in progress: Product or inventory in various stages of completion throughout the plant, from raw material to completed product