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Lean Definitions

5S: Tool that helps to improve the flow of product and information through the application of visual tools and standard practices; “A place for everything and everything in its place.” A workplace that is organized and clean promotes discipline and expectations of quality that match its surroundings.

5 Why’s: Tool of asking why five or more times in order to get to the root cause of the problem

Andon: The andon cord is the ability for an operator to pull a cord that triggers a horn and light that tells their team leader or supervisor that they need help or support. Once provided, the team leader can pull the cord to keep production moving.

Cell: An arrangement of work (machines, people, method and material) so that processing steps are sequentially done in next-door steps one at a time in order to improve efficiency, reduce waste and improve communication.

Cycle Time: Length of time it takes for an operator to do a task and return to their original position

Error Proofing: Also known as poka-yoke or mistake proofing, error proofing involves the redesign of equipment or processes to prevent problems from occurring or moving on to the next step.

Gemba: Place where the value-added work is being done

Heijunka: Production smoothing

Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment): System of management in which the strategy is passed down through the organization; linked to functional or tactical activities and improvements

Jidoka: Also referred to as autonomation, it is adding the human element of being able to identify problems and either stop for correction or self-correct before moving onto the next step.

Just-In-Time: System of supplying work to the customer at precisely the right time, in the correct quantity and error-free

Kaizen: Japanese word that means improvement or change for the better; practice of continuous improvement

Kanban: Japanese word that means card; an information system that signals the need to start an event

Non-Value-Added (NVA): Any activities that are performed but do not contribute to the product or service being produced (look at the 8 wastes)

Non-Value-Added but Required (NVA-R): Activities that do not contribute directly to the product or service but are absolutely necessary and typically cannot be removed from the process, which could still be improved in some way

One-Piece Flow / Continuous Flow: The ideal state for any process is to move away from traditional batching of work, whether material or information, and flow work continuously, one element at a time. This reduces many types of waste, particularly inventory.

Parking Lot: Tool used in meeting management where the facilitator documents something (usually on an easel pad) that comes up, but is not tied to the purpose and agenda of the meeting, to revisit later

PDCA: Plan-Do-Check-Act means that whether solving a problem or building a plan, everyone should follow this process to ensure learning and success towards the goal.

Preventive Maintenance
: Simplifying and structuring maintenance activities to prevent problems rather than react to them can increase capacity and improve continuous flow.

Poka Yoke (Error Proofing): Activity of awareness, detection and prevention of errors which adversely affect customers and employees

Pull: Work is initiated only at the signal of demand and is designed based on demand patterns and known events; work and inventory are kept at the lowest level of investment possible and unique attributes are delayed until last point possible

Quick Changeover (SMED): Also know as single minute exchange of dies (SMED) or the time between last good part before changeover, to first good part after changeover. The purpose of setup time reduction is not to reduce the total amount of time spent on setups but to perform more setups within the same time and thereby reduce batch sizes and increase flexibility.
Standardized Work: All tasks are organized in the best known sequence and by using the most effective combination of resources

Scoreboards: Scoreboards are visual management of safety, quality, delivery and cost metrics, including analysis and action plans, used to help shop floor teams manage their own process.

Setup Reduction: The time it takes to change over equipment from one product to the next is a major barrier to continuous flow, and setup reduction seeks to reduce or eliminate that time. This is also known as SMED, or Single-Minute Exchange of Dies.

Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a method and a set of tools to reduce variation in processes, particularly quality, using mostly statistical tools. Its primary method is DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

Standardized Work: For standardized work, all tasks are organized in the best known sequence and by using the most effective combination of resources, including People, Materials, Methods, and Machines. 

SWIs: SWIs, or Standard Work Instructions, are a visual method of structuring every job, providing easy access to key information for operators and allowing for continuous improvement.

Takt Time
: Length of time required to produce one quality part to satisfy customer demand

Takt Time = Net Available Time (Total Working Time)
Customer Demand

Total Productive Maintenance: The operators and/or team leaders are trained to spot and detect potential problems or warning signs of machine or equipment failure, and a process is designed on how they should take action.

Value: A product, service or information provided to a stakeholder/customer at the right time, in the right amount, in the right venue, for an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the stakeholder/customer

Value-Added (VA): What the customer is willing to pay for; any activities that have a direct impact on producing a product or providing a service to the customer

Value Stream: Start to end of a process from input to output; collection of all activities required to produce a product or fulfill a service; information and material flow to customers

Value Stream Map: Visual representation of the value stream to help identify wastes within the process

Waste (Muda): Anything that does not add value to a process or product, or that the customer is unwilling to pay for

Waste Elimination: Eliminating waste from the process is the goal of many lean tools and should be an on-going effort in itself. This comes in the form of the eight types of waste: overproduction, waiting, inventory, overprocessing, motion, transportation, defects and under-utilized talent.

Pawley Lean Institute

Pawley Hall, Room 460K
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-4542