Cell: layout of production machinery, devised for performing different operations in a fixed sequence in order to create a unit stream (one-piece flow). This production scheme's main advantages are: one-piece product flow and human work over different machines in a flexible distribution. Most common cell types are "U-", "L-" or "I-" shaped.

Continuous Flow: items are processed and moved directly to the next process one piece at a time. Each processing step completes its work just before the next process needs the item.


Five S's: supporting technique used to an easy implementation of Lean Thinking model. It is composed by 5 phases aimed at the creation of a workplace suited for visual control and for Lean Thinking application. It is called Five S after the Japanese words of each phase: "Seiri" (organisation) means to select and divide necessary tools, materials and instructions from the unnecessary ones: the process ends up with elimination of the latter. "Seiton" (order) means accurately deploy tools and parts after their identification.  This activity makes it easier their regular use. "Seiso" (purity) means cleaning, accurately. "Seiketsu" (clarity) means to execute the first three steps at pre-defined (and frequent) intervals. "Shitsuke" (discipline) means to build the routine of constantly performing the first four S's.
Five S's on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis): a procedure for analysis of potential failure modes within a system for classification by severity or determination of the effect of failures on the system. It is widely used in manufacturing industries in various phases of the product life cycle and is now increasingly finding use in the service industry. Failure modes are any errors or defects in a process, design, or item, especially those that affect the customer, and can be potential or actual. Effects analysis refers to studying the consequences of those failures.
FMEA on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Heijunka: leveling of production that balances the work load within the cell production minimizing also the fluctuations of supply. The main elements of the production Heijunka are: leveling of the production volume and of the production mix. The "leveled production volume" is the uniform distribution of production over a given time period. The production volume level depends on the "range of leveled production", which is the uniform distribution of the mix/variety of production over a given time period.


Just in Time (JIT): manufacturing what is needed, when it is needed, in the quantity it is needed.
Just In Time on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Kaizen: a combination of two Japanese words: Kai (change) and Zen (good): a continuous and gradual improvement in any activity, aiming at the creation of more value with less waste.
Kaizen on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Kaizen breakthrough: a time-sensitive, rapid-deployment methodology that employs a focused, team-based approach. Continuous improvement.

Kaizen event: part of a continuous improvement program. A focused, dedicated and well defined event that is used to get quick hit value by implementing "do-now" solutions leading to waste elimination.

Kanban: kanban forms an integral part of any Lean Manufacturing System and is classed as a Pull system. Kanban as expected is a Japanese word: KAN meaning CARD and BAN meaning SIGNAL. A Pull system is driven by actual customer demand and material is only released into production as it is required, when the parts are required. A Push system such as those driven by MRP (Material Resource Planning / Manufacturing Resource Planning). It is not a scheduling system but a production control system that will define production using TAKT Times. One of the major Lean Manufacturing Principles is the usage and control of materials.  
Kanban on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Lead time: this term can be used in different situations. In the manufacturing jargon it is normally used to indicate (for a product) the time elapsed from the raw materials arrival at the facility to the final product release to the warehouse. In a customer-oriented perspective, however, lead time is defined as the total time elapsed from the customer order to the product delivery.
Lead time on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Lot-Size: the production of small lots (ideally one piece) is an important component of many strategies for Lean Manufacturing. The size of the lot has direct effect on scheduling and planning as well as on the cost of the same. Other effects are less obvious but equally important. The small batches reduce the variability in the system and level the production, improving their quality. The effects of small batches differ between Make to Order (MTO) and Make to Stock (MTS), but are important in both situations. In MTO environments, the ability to make smaller batches economically makes it practical to accept smaller orders. This may open new market segments or eliminate intermediaries in the supply chain. In an MTS environment, the small lots are translated directly into smaller inventories. Transport costs and inventory systems are significantly reduced. The small batches often allow the convertion from MTS to MTO.


Make to Order: items are produced as customer orders are received. Finished items are usually a combination of standard parts and custom-designed pieces. A make-to-order company generally does not inventory any finished products.

Make to Stock: product shipped from finished goods "off the shelf".

Muda: Japanese word meaning waste and it is used for any activity that adds costs and not value of the product.


Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA): an improvement cycle introduced to the Japanese in the 50’s by W. Edwards Deming. Based upon proposing then implementing an improvement, then measuring the results and acting accordingly.
PDCA on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Poka-yoke: Japanese word used to identify a fool-proof tool or procedure. A poka yoke device prevents mistakes affecting a machine or a productive processes and should make it hard to make mistakes even for not fully trained operators. Poka - yoke systems may be applied in several company departments, such as order management, production, etc.
Poka-yoke on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Product family: group of technically similar products that can be produced in a cell.

Pull: material flow triggered by actual customer need rather than a scheduled production forecast. Downstream processes signal to upstream processes exactly what is required and in what quantity.


Quality Function Deployment (QFD): a methodology in which a cross-functional team reaches consensus about final product specifications, in accord with the wishes of the customer.  The use of this technique allows skipping long decision-making processes and expensive design reviews.
Quality Function Deployment on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Six Sigma:a business management strategy, initially implemented by Motorola, that today enjoys widespread application in many sectors of industry.
Six Sigma on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Spaghetti chart: graphic representation of the physical movements of a product along the value stream, in a large scale production company. The tangled shape resembles a spaghetti course.

Supermarket: a shop floor, line-side location where parts are sorted and made ready for presentation to operators.


Takt time: German word to define the pace production in order to fully satisfy demand. It is the amount of time available for production divided by demand – both expressed in the same time frame.

TPM (Total Productive Maintenance): a maintenance philosophy designed to integrate equipment maintenance into the manufacturing process. TPM is used to drive waste out of the manufacturing process by reducing or eliminating production time lost to machine failures. The goal of any TPM program is to ensure that machinery and equipment is always available to manufacture products for the end customer. By minimizing rework, slow running equipment and downtime, maximum value is added at the minimum cost.
Total Productive Maintenance on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Value: ability to provide to customers the wished product at the right time and at the right price (as defined by the customers) or alternatively value perceived by the customer - all the product / service features considered as necessary and valuable by the customer.

Visual controls: creating standards in the workplace that make it obvious if anything is out of order.

VSM (Value Stream Mapping): a visual picture of how material and information flows from suppliers, through manufacturing, to the customer. It includes calculations of total cycle time and value-added time in order to indicate where the business is moving forward.
VSM on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia