Kaizen Glossary

  • 3 ‘G’ Principles

  • Gemba - shop floor
  • Gembutsu - the actual product
  • Genjitsu - the facts
The key to successful kaizen is to go to the shop floor, work with the actual product and get the facts (reality)

  • 3Ms

  • Muda - waste,

  • Mura - irregular actions, and

  • Muri - strain make up the 3 M's.

Existing perception of factory work is that it is dangerous, dirty and stressful, full of waste and unpredictable events

  • 3 Principles of Lean

  • Takt time
  • One piece flow production
  • Downstream pull system (from the customer)

  • 5Cs
American equivalent of 5S — see below

  • 5M of Production

  • Man
  • Machine
  • Material
  • Method
  • Measure
The understanding of these factors and the establishment of standards are key steps in strengthening the production processes

  • 5S

5S is the principle of waste elimination through workplace organisation. It is derived from the Japanese words:

· Seiri - sort
· Seiton - straighten
· Seiso - sweep
· Seiketsu - standardise
· Shitsuke - sustain

7 Tools of QC

Data gathering and analysis tools used for kaizen activities originally by QC Circles. They are flow charts, histograms, Pareto diagrams, scatter diagrams, cause and effect diagrams (fishbone charts), control charts, and check sheets

7 Wastes of Production

There are types of waste that describe all wasteful activity in a production environment. No more, no less. Anything that does not add value is considered waste. Elimination of the 7 wastes leads to improved profits. The 7 wastes are

· Overproduction
· Transportation
· Motion
· Waiting
· Processing
· Inventory
· Defects

7 Flows

Flow of: People, Raw Material, Sub Parts, Final Products, Equipment, Information and Engineering. All of these must be evaluated in setting up a flow layout

14 Points

The 14 points could be called founding factors of transformation of manufacturing to flow production systems — the original lean compass by Dr. W. Edwards Deming

1. Create Constancy of Purpose toward improvement of product and service
2. Adopt the model across the board
3. Cease dependence on mass inspection
4. End the practice of awarding business on price tag
5. Constantly and forever improve the system of production and service to improve quality and productivity and thus constantly decrease costs
6. Institute value adding methods of training
7. Institute value enhancing methods of leadership both in supervision and in management — leaders whose purpose is to help people and machines and fixtures do a better job
8. Drive out Fear
9. Break down barriers between departments
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and meaningless "fads of the month"
11. Eliminate quotas
12. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of pride of workmanship
13. Make education and continuous training and retraining part of company's institution
14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. Kaizen is everyone's job

80/20 rule

Italian mathematician, Pareto, showed that 80% of frequency is caused by 20% of the issues.

Abnormality Management

Also called Ijo-kanri. It is the process of identifying and immediately responding to activities that are outside of the standard method of operation

Activity Sheet

Lists the team, objectives, current situation, problems, and charts for a kaizen topic. A summary sheet (an activity sheet) should be filled out well before the start of the kaizen. It should carefully define the scope and breadth of the kaizen, illustrating why the topic is important and how it fits into the scheme of goals of the company. It should be communicated at the kick-off among all company leaders who may have processed affected by the kaizen

Affinity Diagram

Tool used in initial stages of brainstorming to get the most thinking out a diverse group of people

Agile Manufacturing

Agile manufacturing strategies — tools, techniques, and initiatives that enable a plant or company to thrive under conditions of unpredictable change. Agile manufacturing not only enables a plant to achieve rapid response to customer needs, but also includes the ability to quickly reconfigure operations — and strategic alliances — to respond rapidly to unforeseen shifts in the marketplace. In some instances, it also incorporates "mass customisation" concepts to satisfy unique customer requirements. And, in the broadest sense, it includes the ability to react quickly to technical or environmental surprises


An andon is a tool of visual management, originating from the Japanese for 'lamp' and is a set of lights placed on machines or processes to indicate their operational status. The lights are commonly colour-coded green for normal operations, yellow for a changeover or planned maintenance, and red for abnormal down time. The red light is often combined with an audible signal such as music or an alarm

Annual Inventory Turns – Stock Turn

Annual inventory turns -- A measure of asset management that is calculated by dividing the annual cost of goods sold (for the most recent full year) by the average on-hand total inventory value at plant cost. Total inventory includes raw materials, work in process and finished goods. Plant cost includes material, labour, and plant overhead

Auto Time

The time when a machine is running on automatic cycle and a person is not needed to operate the machine. It is commonly applied to NC machine cycles, oven cycles, wash cycles , etc.

Automatic Time
Same as Auto Time


Also called Jidoka. autonomation is automation with 'the human touch', capable of detecting and preventing defects, and stopping a machine or process when an abnormality occurs. It is a pillar of the Toyota Production System

Rapid Process Improvement following a standard format


Bottleneck -- Any point in manufacturing operations at which movement is slowed because demand placed on a resource is equal to or more than capacity

A confirmed process to creatively and efficiently generate a high volume of ideas through an approach that is free of criticism and judgment

Cellular Manufacturing

Cellular manufacturing -- A manufacturing approach in which equipment and workstations are arranged to facilitate small-lot, continuous-flow production -- often in a U-shaped cell. In a manufacturing "cell," all operations necessary to produce a component or subassembly are performed in close proximity, thus allowing for quick feedback between operators when quality problems and other issues arise. Workers in a manufacturing cell typically are cross-trained and, hence, able to perform multiple tasks as needed

Check Sheet
A deceptively simple device to accurately record easy-to-understand data, forcing agreement on the definition of each condition — various people observing record the same information. A complete check sheet includes complete source description (time, date, conditions, etc.) and content in columns by categories of what is being counted. The count itself is marked at each instance. A four-sided box with a line through the middle is a more accurate tally than the traditional hash marks — easy to overstrike a hash mark

Chaku-chaku line
A production line where the only human activity is to 'chaku' or 'load' the machines. The machines eject the finished parts automatically using hanedashi

Counter-clockwise flow
A basic principle of lean production cell layout is that the flow of material and the motion of people should be from right to left, or counter clockwise. The origin of this idea came from the design of lathes and machine tools with the chuck facing right, making it easier for right-handed people to load from the right

Cycle Time
Manufacturing cycle time is often confused with production lead-time. Cycle time is the time it takes to do one repetition of any particular task.

Cycle time can be categorised into
1. manual cycle time
2. machine cycle time
3. auto cycle time that is also referred to as touch time or hands-on time

Downstream Pull System
See Pull System

Elements of work
The elements of work are
· value-added work
· non value-added work
· waste
Thoroughly understanding the elements of work is a key first step to becoming lean

External Set-Up
All set-up tasks that can be done while the machine is still running, such as collecting tools, the next piece of material, or fixture. Transferring set-up activities from internal to external in order to reduce machine down time is a central activity of set-up reduction and SMED

Also known as First-in First-out.

It is a system of keeping track of the order in which information or products need to be processed. The goal of FIFO is to prevent earlier order from being delayed unfairly in favour of new orders

Flow Production
One of the 3 Elements of JIT, flow production is defined as moving the product or information from one value-added step to the next continuously. See also One-Piece Flow

Gemba is Japanese for 'actual place' or 'the place where it happens'. In manufacturing, gemba is the shop floor. The gemba is where value is created

It is Japanese for 'actual thing' or 'actual product'. The tools, materials, machines, parts, and fixtures that both add value and cause problems are your gembutsu

It is Japanese for 'the facts' or 'the truth'. The actual facts or the reality of what is happening on the shop floor and in the business

An auto-eject device that unloads the part from the machine once the cycle is complete. This allows the operators to go from one machine to the next, picking up and loading. It is a key component of chaku-chaku lines

It is Japanese for 'abnormality management'. The goal of standardisation and visual management is ijo-kanri, allowing the supervisor or manager to monitor abnormalities in order to take quick action to correct them. Continuous waste elimination and problem solving through kaizen are only possible when the abnormalities are clearly visible

Internal Set-Up
Internal set-up tasks can only be done when the machine is stopped, such as changing the fixture or changing the tools. After as much of the internal tasks have been externalised, the remaining internal changeover time is reduced through use of quick-change mechanisms

Just-In-Time Production
A production system to make what the customer needs when the customer needs it in the quantity needed, using minimal resources of man, material, and machinery. The three elements to making Just-in-Time possible are Takt time, Flow production, and the Pull system

Kaikau si the opposite of kaizen.
Change for the worse.
Bad change.

Kaizen is Japanese for 'change for the better' or 'improvement'. A methodology of continuous cost reduction, quality improvement, and delivery time reduction through shop floor involvement and rapid action now practiced in businesses worldwide

Japanese for 'sign'. The kanban system is a tool of the pull system to signal that the customer has 'pulled' or bought the product from the producer. Cards, carts, boxes, electronic signals are examples of kanban. Squares painted on the floor to indicate storage areas are often mistakenly referred to as kanbans

The result of a typical material or information flow system without FIFO, resulting in earlier orders being perpetually delayed by new orders arriving on top of them. Also Last In First Out

Typically, the time from customer order to shipment of the product ordered. The lead-time includes actual cycle time, order-processing time, and time lost by the 7 wastes of production. Lead-time can be measured as

· production lead-time
· inventory lead-time, or
· customer lead-time

Lean Manufacturing
The authors James Womack and Dan Jones coined ‘Lean production’. Lean is a competitive strategy focusing on delivering greater value to the customer by eliminating wasteful steps through continuous improvement activities, based on the Toyota Production System

Smoothing out the production schedule by averaging out both the volume and mix of products. Production levelling allows a consistent workflow, which makes it possible to set standards and identify abnormalities. Level loading is the foundation of the Toyota Production System

Machine Work
Work that is done by a machine. Machine work can overlap with manual work, if the machine is manually operated

Manual Work
Work that is done by people, without the aid of machinery. The human tasks of operating or loading machines are also called manual work

Japanese for 'waste'. Elimination of the muda inherent in production and office processes leads to improved profitability. See also 7 Wastes

Multi-Machine Handling
When a machine operator is running more than one machine of a certain type, this is called multi-machine handling

Multi-Process Handling
When a machine operator is doing tasks multiple processes, this is called multi-process handling

Non Value-Added Work
Activities that may be necessary but do not add value in a way that the customer is willing to pay for. Examples are packaging, paperwork, and inspection. Non value-added tasks can create value if their function is to identify and eliminate waste

One-Piece Flow
One-piece flow production is when parts are made one at a time and passed on to the next process. Among the benefits of one-piece flow are

1. the quick detection of defects to prevent a large batch of defects
2. short lead-times of production
3. reduced material and inventory costs
4. design of equipment and workstations to minimal size

Open Room Effect
This common practice in Japanese offices involves taking down the walls of an office and laying all of the desks out into one big 'open room'. This saves space and improves communication between those performing related tasks and creates a sense of teamwork

PDCA stands for 'Plan-Do-Check-Act'. This is a basic principle followed for effective problem solving during kaizen

Pokayoke or poka-yoke is Japanese for 'goof-proof'. Mistake proofing and fool proof devices made by designing parts, processes, or procedures so that mistakes physically or procedurally cannot happen

Pull System
One of the 3 Elements of JIT. In the pull system, the downstream process takes the product they need and 'pulls' it from the producer. This 'customer pull' is a signal to the producer that the product is sold. The pull system links accurate information with the process to minimises waiting and overproduction

Push System
In contrast to the pull system, 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

QCD (Quality, Cost and delivery)
Quality, Cost, and Delivery are the 3 Elements of Demand. Kaizen activity focuses on improving QCD metrics

Sequential Changeover
Also sequential set-up. When changeover times are within Takt time, changeovers can be performed one after another in a flow line. Sequential changeover assures that the lost time for each process in the line is minimised to one 'Takt' beat. A set-up team or expert follows the operator, so that by the time the operator has made one round of the flow line (at Takt time), it has been completely changed over to the next product

SMED is an acronym for Single Minute Exchange of Dies. A system of set-up reduction and quick changeover pioneered and developed by Shigeo Shingo

Standard Work
Standard Work is the most efficient combination of man, machine, and material. The three elements of standard work are

1. Takt Time
2. work sequence
3. standard work-in-process
Performing standard work allows for a clear and visible 'standard' operation. Deviation from standard work indicates a problem, which is then an opportunity for improvement

Standard Work In Process
Also Standard WIP. The minimum work-in-process required to maintain standard work. Standard WIP parts are

1. parts completed and in the machine after auto cycle
2. parts placed in equipment with cycle times exceeding Takt Time
3. parts currently being worked on or handled by the operators performing standard work

Stop-the-line authority
When workers are able stop the line to indicate a problem, this is stop-the-line authority. The production line or machine remains stopped until the supervisor, manager, engineer, maintenance personnel, or support staff have identified the problem and taken corrective action

Suggestion System
In a suggestion system workers are encouraged to identify wastes, safety, and environmental concerns and submit improvement ideas formally. Rewards are given for suggestions resulting in cost savings. These rewards are typically shared among the production line or the kaizen team

A supermarket is typically located at the end of a production line (or the entrance of a u-shaped cell). In a supermarket, a fixed amount of raw material, work in process, or finished material is kept. The supermarket is a tool of the pull system that helps signal demand for the product

Takt Time
German word for 'beat' or 'rhythm'. Takt time is the pace at which the customer is buying a particular product or service. Takt time is calculated by taking the available time to work and dividing it by demand for that period of time. Takt time is not how long it takes to perform a task. Takt time cannot be reduced or increased except by changes in sales or available time to work. All cycle times must be within Takt time for customer demand to be met. Takt time is one of the 3 Elements of JIT

Japanese for 'hands-off'. The goal of tebanare is to inexpensively automate manual machines to allow people to do work that is more valuable that only a person can do

Total Productive Maintenance - TPM
TPM aims at maximising equipment effectiveness and uptime throughout the entire life of the equipment. Often the operator is involved in simple, regular tasks such as cleaning, checking, and oiling the machine

Two-Bin System
An example of both visual management and the pull system, whereby two bins or containers are used trigger reorder of parts or materials. The each bin contains enough parts to last during the delivery lead-time. When one bin is empty, it is time to reorder the two-bin quantity

Value-Added Work
Work that the customer is willing to pay for. Any activity that transforms the shape or function of the material or information in a way that the customer wants

Vertical Handling
When machines or operations are integrated into a production line in such a way that the material progresses through the process towards completion, this is called vertical handling. Also, vertical integration

Visual controls
Various tools of visual management such as colour coding, charts, andons, schedule boards, labels and flow lines

Visual Management
When the normal state and abnormal state can be clearly and visually defined, visual management is possible. In visual management, simple visual tools are used to identify the target state, and any deviance is met with corrective action

Water spider
The water spider is a skilled and well-trained person who makes the rounds supplying parts, assisting with changeover, providing tools and materials, and any additional help needed. The water spider has a routine and knows all processes thoroughly enough to step in if needed. At Toyota, performing water spider role is a prerequisite for management positions. Named after the whirligig beetle that swims about agilely in the water

Work Sequence
The defined steps and activities that need to be performed in order for the work to be completed


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