Glossary of Lean Terminology

Virginia Mason Institute

3P – Production Preparation Process, a five-day event in which a team focuses on building a production system for a new plant, process or product.

5S –  A strategy that helps to keep our workplace safe and organized.  It is a foundational element of the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS).

  • Sort – Separates necessary from unnecessary
  • Simplify – Makes places for necessary items
  • Sweep – A form of inspection that ensures everything is returned to its proper place
  • Standardize – Creates a standard agreement and communicates it to the team
  • Self-discipline – Maintains standards through training, empowerment, commitment and discipline

Andon – A type of visual control in the form of alarm lamps that alert management and staff to problems

  • Paging – Lights to request supplies
  • Emergency – Alerts leaders to abnormalities
  • Operations – Indicates the operational status of equipment
  • Progress – Especially useful for processes that have long takt or cycle times, it helps to monitor progress

Continuous Flow – The movement of products or services in a level manner through production — the ideal is one-piece flow at and between processes

Everyday Lean Idea (ELI) System – A formal method to capture staff’s ideas about removing waste in the work unit and develop these ideas with their manager

Genba – Where the work actually happens

Home Team – The workers who are not part of the improvement team, but whose work is affected by the changes — they are encouraged to participate by providing real-time ideas and honest feedback during planning, the event and implementation

Kaizen – Continuous incremental improvement

Kaizen Event – A one-, two-, or three-day event focused on a particular process in which people who do the work are empowered to eliminate waste and reduce the burden of work

Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) – The department responsible for the deployment and application of the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS) tools, methods and concepts

Kanban – A tool to effectively implement just-in-time and pull production — they are a visual cue that processes must begin

  • Standard – A production kanban that triggers the preceding process to start producing
  • Signal – A production kanban that triggers a process or machine to begin producing
  • Transport – A kanban that triggers the movement of parts from preceding processes
  • Purchase – A kanban that triggers the movement of parts from outside vendors

Lead Time – The entire time required to provide a product or service, from request to completion — it is measured with a stopwatch (includes waits between cycles and “off hours” and weekends)

Mistake-proofing – A method that aims to prevent defects

Muda – Waste of non-value-adding activities

Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) – A method to continuously test and refine ideas — the focus is on measurable results

Poka-Yoke – Devices that eliminate or detect mistakes

Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) – A five-day workshop focused on a particular process in which people who do the work are empowered to eliminate waste and reduce the burden of work

Setup Reduction – A method to reduce or eliminate setup time to increase capacity and flexibility

Standard Operations – A specific method of observation and analysis to determine and document the most efficient way to complete the work

Standard Work in Process (SWIP) – A calculation of the ideal number of products or customers that are within process boundaries

Taiichi Ohno’s Seven Wastes

  • Time –  Waiting for people or services to be provided or time when processes, people or equipment are idle
  • Processing – Unnecessary processes and operations traditionally accepted as necessary
  • Defects – Waste related to costs for inspection of defects in materials and processes, customer complaints and repairs
  • Inventory – Maintaining excessive amounts of supplies, materials or information for any length of time – having more on hand than what is needed or used
  • Motion – Unnecessary movement or movement that does not add value or movement that is done too quickly or slowly
  • Overproduction – Producing what is unnecessary, when it is unnecessary, and in unnecessary amounts
  • Transportation – Conveying, transferring, picking up, setting down, piling up and otherwise moving unnecessary items

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