5S – A lean workplace organizational tool. In Japanese, the original 5S stands for seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. In English, they are usually translated as sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
Gemba – The shop floor. Often used as in a “gemba walk,” meaning a tour of the actual production area to see what is going on and what can be improved.
JIT – Just In Time, a process for reducing inventory and carrying costs often relying on kanban to streamline production flow.
Kaizen – An improvement or literally “change for the better,” the process of continuous improvement. Often used as in a “kaizen moment” or a “kaizen session.”
Kanban – A tool to trigger production activity. It might be as simple as a card in a bin that triggers reordering of a part. In fact, the original Japanese meaning is a “visual card” or “signboard.”
Muda – Waste. Anything not perceived as value by the end user is waste. Lean thinkers commonly refer to seven wastes: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Over-production, and Defects (TIMWOOD), but some add an eighth, unused employee genius.
Poka-yoke – A device, tool or process that ensures no defective parts can go forward past a certain point; a no-go gauge.
SMED – Single-Minute Exchange of Dies. Rapid tooling changeovers are key to reducing batch sizes and streamlining production.
TOC—Theory of Constraints. A production flow strategy promoted by Eliyahu Goldratt in his book, “The Goal,” and often used by lean thinkers.
TPS – Toyota Production System. The manufacturing method developed by a team at Toyota, including Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo has been generalized and was first described as lean manufacturing in an MIT study led by Jim Womack, who founded the Lean Enterprise Institute.
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