Written by John Knudsen
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World Class Tool list:

Knowledge is empowering in all aspects of life and it’s especially important in our professional life. In the property industry, thorough and up to date knowledge will set you apart and give your Company a competitive edge within reduce Waste and Losses and thereby become World Class. 

Continuous Improvement (CI), World Class Manufacturing (WCM), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Toyota Production System (TPS) and Lean Manufacturing provides a methodology for eliminating of Losses and Waste to improving organisations. This methodology is developed over the last 50+ years, and has yielded a wide array of tools and techniques.

Below has 4Improvement created a alphabetic list and basic description of many of the tools and techniques used in all thise concepts.


But with so many tools, what does each one aim to achieve and what does they mean?

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z 

2-Bin System: A 2-bin system is an inventory replenishment system. It can be considered a specialised form of a Kanban. In a 2-bin system, inventory is carried in two bins. As the first bin, the “working bin,” is emptied, a replenishment quantity is ordered from the supplying work center. During the replenishment period, material is used from the second bin which typically contains enough to satisfy demand during the lead time plus some safety stock. In this way, there is always a bin of parts available at the work center to be processed, and inventory is capped at two bins of parts.

5 Why’s: The 5 Why’s process is used to uncover the root cause of a problem or defect. This technique relies on asking why something occurred, and then asking why this cause occurred. The process is repeated until the root cause if found.

5W+2H:The 5W2H method is one of the most efficient management tools that exists and, oddly enough, one of the most simple and easy to apply. The 5W2H approach is nothing more than a qualified, structured and practical plan of action, with well-defined stages. In a dynamic and extremely competitive universe such as business, both operational activities as well as corporate communications need to be fast and agile, errors in the transmission of certain information can generate many losses

5S: 5S is a system for cleaning, organising and maintaining a work area to maximize efficiency and consistency. 5S is often one of the first major initiatives of companies who implement lean.

5G (Gemba, Gembutsu, Genjitsu, Genri & Gensoku): 5G is a 5 key suggestuns for Problem Solving, and a method to help elaborate a better description and analyse of phenomena and verify all hypothesis.

8D: 8D stands for the 8 disciplines or the 8 critical steps for solving problems. It is a highly disciplined and effective scientific approach for resolving chronic and recurring problems. This approach uses team synergy and provides excellent guidelines to identify the root cause of the problem, implement containment actions, develop and then implement corrective actions and preventive actions that make the problem go away permanently.

12 Step Kaizen: 12 Step Kaizen Story is a structured methodology to identify and eliminate the root cause of a chronic problem. The tool is mainly used in World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) concept

A3 Report: An A3 Report is a presentation of a problem on a single sheet of paper, including all the background information on the problem, root causes, potential solutions and action plans. The name comes from the A3 paper size, typically 11″ x 17″. By presenting everything on one sheet of paper, the A3 Report can be a very useful root cause analysis tool. Many lean practitioners believe that when you confine your problem solving to one page of paper, your thinking becomes more focused and structured.

Next << A >> Home

ABC Inventory: An ABC Inventory system categorizes inventory items in three levels – A, B and C. The A items are extremely important, and typically high volume or high value items. B items are moderately important. C items are a low priority and typically low volume items. The system is used to define inventory stock levels, reorder points and cycle counting frequencies for items.

Andon: Andon is a signaling system used in the manufacturing process when there is an abnormality or some sort of important action is required. It is a form of visual management.

Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL): Acceptance Quality Limit is a statistical measurement of the maximum number of defective goods considered acceptable in a particular sample size. Goods in a sample are tested at random, and if the number of defective items is below the predetermined amount, that product is said to meet the acceptable quality level (AQL) in ISO 2859-1. It represents the maximum number of defective units, beyond which a batch is rejected. Importers usually set different AQLs for critical, major, and minor defects.. If the acceptable quality level (AQL) is not reached for a particular  sampling of goods, manufacturers will review the various parameters in the production process to determine the areas causing the defects.

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Benchmarking: Lean benchmarking is the process of using a successful organization as a reference for identifying ways for another organization to improve. It can be conducted as a comparison with the best practices at other organizations, or it can provide a tool for comparing practices within an organization over time to prevent backsliding of performance.

Bottleneck Analysis: Bottleneck Analysis studies a process to identify the step in the process where the capacity available is less than the capacity required. That process is known as the constraint. The next step is to identify ways of removing the constraint.

Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a simple technique for gathering the ideas for developing creative solutions to problems. Brainstorming helps you to have diverse experience of all team members into play during problem solving and/or solution development. This increases the confidence and self satisfaction to all team members and a feeling of ownership of the problem which will also help to find better solutions to the problems you face.

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Cause and Effect (Fishbone) Diagram: A Cause and Effect Diagram displays graphically the factors and underlying causes of a defect or problem. The factors are drawn on lines radiating out from a central line. The completed diagram resembles a fish skeleton hence the nickname.

Check Sheet: A Check Sheet is a written document listing critical elements to be checked on a regular basis. Check sheets can be used to maintain almost any lean practice, or they can be used when implementing lean practices.

Control chart: Control chart is used to determine whether a process is stable and predictable. The planned value of a process is the centerline. For many processes, the upper and lower control limits are +/–3 standard deviations from the plan, or the mean, depending on the circumstances. The upper and lower specification limits are the limits specified in the quality requirements.

Cross-training: Cross training is a primary technique used to build flexibility in a workforce by training workers to perform some or all the other operational steps required within the work center. Flexibility is a critical element of a lean operation.

Current State Map: The Current State Map is a process map showing the existing processes exactly as they currently exist. This tool is used to identify opportunities for improvement, and to measure the improvements after changes have been made.

CLIT (Cleaning, Lubrication, Inspection & Tightening): Basics of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) is CLIT.

C =  Clean your machine/equipment daily
L =  Lubricate the moving/wear parts daily
I =  Inspect all approachable parts of machines/equipment
T =  Tighten the loose parts/nut/bolts.


Lubrication here is the basic function that need to be done for improving life and minimizing breakdown. It plays a major role in bringing down the Breakdown Cost and Cost of Poor Quality.
Selection of right lubricating oil is another important aspect for effective lubrication whether in a machine or in automobile.

Countermeasure ladder: A 6 level approach tool, to verify the strongness of your solutions to prevent the problem to occur in the process. (As higher on the Ladder the stronger solution)

Ladder No.          Guideline
1 Reminders, training
2 Double check
3 Continuous reminder by visual control
4 Poka Yoke – Difficult or impossible to do
5 Eliminate human element
6 Eliminate the operation

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): Like TQM, this practice also looks to improve the quality of products and processes, but it focuses on continuous incremental improvements. You may also hear this referred to as Kaizen, the Japanese word for improvement.

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Deployment: Deployment is the process through which losses are analysed from the macro (bigger/general) to the micro level (smaller/specific) level in order to identify priority problems and to plan improvement action in right direction. Losses are exploded further and further until the level of details is enough to be tackled by an improvement teams

DMAIC:The method most frequently associated with Six Sigma is DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. Before beginning any Six Sigma improvement project, it is necessary to select a process that, if improved, would result in reduced cost, superior quality or increased efficiency. The process also must possess measurable data because what you cannot measure you cannot improve. The process selected may currently be experiencing quality problems or generating a large amount of scrap.

ECRS: ECRS is unique approach towards process activity optimization with following core principle.

Elimination Elimination of activity is the best
One shot setup is ideal
No change over is the ultimate
Combination If elimination is not possible
Combine the activity
Reduction If combination is not possible
Reduce the activity time
Simplification If activity time cannot be reduced
Do kaizens to simplify the activities
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Empowerment: Empowerment is a critical element of developing a lean culture. It pushes decision making to the lowest possible level, and encourages employees at all levels to take action to solve customer problems and improve the organization.

External Setups: External Setups is a technique for identifying and performing time consuming machine setups steps that can be conducted without machine stoppage. This allows those setup activities to be conducted while the machine is still running with another set of tooling installed. External Setups are one of the techniques used to achieve Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED).

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Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA): FMEA is a process for analyzing potential failures within a system and the effects these failures will have. This technique is used to identify defects before a process is designed, or to diagnose complex defect processes.

Flexible Manufacturing System: A Flexible Manufacturing System is comprised of a group of numerically controlled machine tools, and is interconnected by a central control system. In a lean manufacturing environment, this allows rapid changeovers, small batch sizes and reduced lead times.

Flow Chart: A Flow Chart is a technique for visually representing a process in order to better understand the process and to identify opportunities for improvement.

Future State Map: A Future State Map is a process map showing the design of a process after improvements are implemented. It represents the goal for the how the process will work.

Frequency studies: The principle of frequency study method is to randomly observe an activity. We use this tool to collect data.

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Gemba: Gemba means “the real place.” In business, refers to an area where there is value created. In manufacturing, it refers to the factory floor. It can also be a construction site, sales floor, etc. The idea of Gemba in lean manufacturing is that management must go to factory floor to search and fix visible problems. Manufacturing problems, Gemba argues, cannot be solved from an office. They require an actual physical presence by problem solvers on the manufacturing floor.

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Heijunka: A production smoothing technique utilized by the Toyota Production System so that load leveling is accomplished by volume or mix of products. This method is used in conjunction with set up reduction so that smaller quantities of items can be produced without costly changeover costs or lost capacity.

Horizontal Expansion: Horizontal Expansion is used after a Kaizen team has closed - Growth of a company based on expanding existing methods of business including expansion into other locations, addition of more stores, building more outlets for distributions, or enlarging a territory geographically.

Histogram: Histogram is a vertical bar chart (like the Pareto diagram), but a histogram is arranged to show the shape of distribution of an event: for example, the shape of distribution of calls coming into a call center. It can show the spread of results (dispersion) and the median (or mean or mode).

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Improvement Team: In World Class Manufacturing (WCM), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) teams are 3 months project teams, from cross functional member which runs to achieve certain KPI started by deployment from pillar, validated by cost pillar (based on the Loss Cost Matrix) and approved by STC. These Teams are alse called a Regular Team.

IS - IS NOT: IS – IS NOT is a problem solving tool that explain the rational process for finding the possible root cause of the problem. This technique also helps user to avoid jumping to a false cause. At the end of the IS – IS NOT exercise user gets a confirmed true cause which helps to establish a plan to fix the problem and prevent it to recur.

ISO-9000/1: The ISO standards provide a measurement, documentation and tracking framework that compliments lean. The focus of ISO on defining processes and holding processes to standards is useful for identifying opportunities for improvement and in maintaining lean practices after implementation.

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JIT/Inventory Reduction: Just-In-Time Inventory, and inventory reduction in general, is a core component of lean. In the lean system, inventory is viewed as waste. JIT strives to minimize inventory so that materials arrive where they are needed at the time they are needed. Materials do not arrive ahead of schedule and are not forced to sit in long queues.

Jikoda: Jikoda is the Japanese term for stopping the production line when a problem or defect occurs. In Henry Ford’s time the American factory worker could be fired for stopping a production line. But Taiichi Ohno and Sakichi Toyoda considered this human form of automation to be fundamental to the Toyota Production System’s success.

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Kaizen Events: Kaizen Events are focused activities where a team attempts to identify and implement a significant improvement in a process. The events are limited in scope and intended to create significant change and improvement quickly.

Kepner Tregoe: This is a rational system based on unbiased decisions. It is also a structured analysis for gathering information, prioritizing and evaluating data. There are four steps to this analysis -, situation appraisal, problem analysis, decision analysis and potential problem analysis .The overall aim is to minimize the risk of problems.

Kaizen Team: This is a team based method of problem solving oriented to continuous and incremental improvement at all levels of the organization. The line operators, middle level managers and the CEO are to be invested in this method if the goals of continuous improvement are to be achieved.

Kaizen Summery Sheet: Kaizen Summery Sheet is a very importent tool when we work with Improvement Teams, as we need to secure succes even teams are closed, and therefore we need to monitor the performance of past teams atleast for 6 month, so that we know the results are sustained.

Kanban/Small Batch Sizes: Kanban systems use cards or bins for inventory replenishment. When a supply of material is used up, the card is delivered to a work station so that the materials can be replenished. Kanban systems are pull systems, with inventory movements only initiated when a downstream process requires material from an upstream process.

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Lean Supermarket: A lean supermarket is an inventory organization and storage system designed to centralize components when continuous flow is not possible. The supermarket regulates inventory levels and replenishment. Whenever one-piece flow cannot be accomplished, a Lean supermarket is often employed as a way of managing buffer inventory and allowing employees to have easy access to the parts they need.

Lean Manufacturing (LEAN): The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

Loss Cost Matrix: Loss Cost Matrix (Deployment) is a method that innovate systems management and control of establishments, introducing a strong link between individualization of the areas to be improved and the results of the performance improvements obtained through application of technical pillars of WCM and TPM, measured through the appropriate 16 Losses. Consequently, it constitutes a reliable means to program  budgeting. Cost Deployment allows defining improvement programs that have an impact in reducing losses, everything that can be classified as wastes or non-value added in a systematic way. It also ensures collaboration between units of production and function of Administration and Control.

Losses: The simplest way to describe Losses or waste is as “Something that adds no Value.” Our customers would not be happy to pay for any action that we take that does not add value to what they actually want and nor should we be.

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Man-Machine diagram: A man-machine diagram graphically represents the relationship between the manual work performed by one or more operators and one or more machines involved in a manufacturing process.

Makigami: Makigami is a structured way to detect all the losses that are occurring in the flow of an activity, either in the process of purchasing the raw material for the manufacture of a finished product, a process of invoice verification or many approach other cases.

Mass Customization: Mass Customization is an approach fostering flexibility. With Mass Customization, every product is considered custom, and processes are designed to rapidly switch between products. In such a system, a process would have lot sizes approaching single items, and setups between products would be virtually eliminated. This system would allow for a very large variety of products, and the addition of new products with minimal changes to the production processes.

Metrics Based Process Mapping: Metrics Based Process Mapping is a tactical level tool, usually used to “drill down” from a Value Stream Map to allow improvement teams to capture and analyze data regarding elimination of waste and process improvements.

Milk Run: A Milk Run is a delivery route that has been planned and optimized to minimize travel time. It can be used by delivery companies to schedule deliveries, or within a facility to plan material handling traffic.

Mind Maps:  Mind maps are a visual tool used to organize and present interrelated ideas.  This tool is similar to cause and effect diagrams and other mapping tools.  Mind maps offer great flexibility and can present complex systems in a very easy to understand format.

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Non-value added time (NVA): Non-value added time It signifies the activities carried out in the process that do not add value to the customer and not required by the process

Necessery Non-value added time (NNVA): Necessery Non-value added time is an abbreviation of Essential Non-Value Add. It signifies the activities carried out in the process that do not add any value to the customer but required for process completion.

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One Point Lesson (OPL):One Point Lesson is used to in a simple way explain how a task should be done, and is designed to enhance knowledge and skills in a short time, at the right time, whenever needed. The method secure that a claim to not reoccur and support a newly employee with training. The OPL illustrate also the change with before and after pictures.

One Piece Flow: One Piece Flow is a scheduling technique where the batch size is set to one. The processes are designed with sufficient flexibility that a setup can occur between every item without slowing production.

One-Touch Exchange of Dies: One-Touch Exchange of Dies a technique allowing a machine die to be exchanged in a single step. To accomplish this, a die or tooling is often loaded into a machine in one rapid step. One-Touch Exchange of Dies is often accomplished by identifying and separating internal and external setup steps, and is one of the techniques allowing for Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED).

Overall Process Effectiveness (OPE): Overall Process Effectiveness is based on TPM metrics and used in any manufacturing process, where there is more than one machine is involved.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): Overall Equipment Effectiveness is the gold standard for measuring manufacturing productivity. Simply put – it identifies the percentage of manufacturing time that is truly productive. An OEE score of 100% means you are manufacturing only Good Parts, as fast as possible, with no Stop Time. In the language of OEE that means 100% Quality (only Good Parts), 100% Performance (as fast as possible), and 100% Availability (no Stop Time).

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Plan Do Check Act (PDCA): PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act and is a four-step method for creating and carrying out change. The PDCA method is a cycle and is repeated over and over again in order to drive continuous improvement.

Pareto Chart: A Pareto Chart graphs data in order of frequency of occurrence. Pareto charts are used to identify the main causes of an issue.

PokaYoke: PokeYoke is a quality technique where a process is error-proofed. The goal of Poka Yoke is to make it impossible for a defect to occur. Error-proofing is an important element of lean since defects are a significant contributor of waste. Poke Yoke was developed by Toyota and is very similar to Jidoka. The idea of Poka Yoke is to prevent mistakes from becoming defects. Mistakes, it argues, are inevitable, but defects that actually reach customers are preventable. The goal is to create a form of quality control that highlights defects automatically and eventually takes humans out of the equation. 

The tool was invented because of human error. Humans that perform repetitive manufacturing tasks day in and day out can very easily miss common mistakes and defects. Automation was necessary to improve the manufacturing process.

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Radar Chart: Radar Chart are a way to visualize multivariate data. They are used to plot one or more groups of values over multiple common variables. They do this by giving an axis for each variable, and these axes are arranged radially around a central point and spaced equally. The data from a single observation are plotted along each axis and connected to form a polygon. Multiple observations can be placed in a single chart by displaying multiple polygons, overlaying them and reducing the opacity of each polygon.

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Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): SOP is used to prevent errors and defects is only possible in a structured and well organised environment. Hence all areas in a company needs to develop routines and processes for their working method. Standardised work is an expression describing the optimal combination of human factors, machines and the capacity of the machines together with the properties of the material.

S&OP: Sales and Operations Planning is a formal business process where one set of plans is developed by a team including sales, marketing, finance, engineering, procurement and operations. All participants have responsibility and accountability for developing and maintaining the plan. This cooperative approach links the strategic plans to the tactical plans for the business and provides performance metrics that drive continuous improvement.

Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a quality improvement strategy focused on removing variability from a process. Although originally developed for manufacturing processes, the Six Sigma methodology has been successfully applied to a wide range of processes. As a tool for process improvement and reduction of defects, Six Sigma compliments Lean and is a component of many Lean programs.

SMART Goals: Goal setting is important with lean. SMART is a goal setting tool that helps ensure that the goals that are set are effective goals for the organization. For a goal to be SMART, it must be specific, measured, attainable, realistic and timely.

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED): SMED is an approach to machine setup and design that strives to minimize setup times. The goal of SMED is a 1-minute change over. Although the name focuses on die changes, the goal and focus on short changeovers can be applied to any machine.

Spaghetti Diagram: A spaghetti diagram is a method that uses a continuous line to trace the path and distance traveled of a particular object or person throughout a process. It is most commonly illustrated on a floor map diagram that contains the entire process you are evaluating; i.e. a manufacturing floor, hospital floor, office layout, etc. The purpose of this Lean Six Sigma tool is to expose inefficient process layouts, unnecessary travel distance between process steps and overall process waste.

Standardized Work: Standardized Work is a technique where process procedures are documented so that an ideal standard work process is developed. This standardized work process can then be taught and managed improving consistency and overall performance.

Statistical Process Control (SPC): Statistical Process control often referred to as SPC, is a tool for monitoring processes for variability. By monitoring output closely, operators can detect variations in the process that may affect the quality of the end product or service. This will reduce the possibility of creating defective products or services as well as the likelihood that those defects will be passed on to the customer.

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Takt Time: Takt Time is a measure of the maximum allowable time to meet customer demand. It is measured as the available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. For example, if you have 432 minutes of planned capacity per day and your demand is 500 units per day, the Takt time is = 432minutes/500 units, which gives you a Takt time of - 86 minutes. This means that a completed unit must exit your production process each .86 minutes. This monitoring of Takt Time allows employees to properly pace activities and recognize when a problem is developing within a work cell.

Time Study: A Time Study is a detailed measurement of the individual actions within a process. Time studies are used to establish production rates and to set product costs. In lean manufacturing, time studies can also be used to identify wasteful processes and motion that can be eliminated. Data from a time study is often used within Value Stream Maps.

Toyota Production System (TPS): Toyota Production System, the precursor of Lean Manufacturing (see more under WCM), is a framework for eliminating losses, witch our Loss Management Tool surpport perfectly in the day to day work. It was developed by Toyota Motor Corporation from 1948 to 1975

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): Total Productive Maintenance is a system for predicting the maintenance needs of equipment so that machine breakdowns are minimized. This methodology uses statistics and standardized work processes within the maintenance function. Another component of this technique is that machine operators are trained to many of the day-to-day maintenance tasks.

Total Quality Management (TQM): Total Quality Management is an extensive and structured organisation management approach that focuses on continuous quality improvement of products and services by using continuous feedback. Joseph Juran was one of the founders of total quality management just like William E. Deming.

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Value Stream Mapping: Value Stream Mapping is a tool for documenting a set of processes related to a single value stream, showing every step and activity from start to finish. Value Stream Maps highlight processing time, wait time, and material handling. The maps are extremely valuable in lean for reducing lead times and eliminating unnecessary process steps.

Value added time (VA): Value added time is made up of processes that improve products. The only value added time process in the cycle time example is the process time. This is the amount of time it takes to actually produce the product. Obviously, production time is a value added time because it creates a product from raw materials. The product is improved at the end of the process time.

Visual Cues/Painted Floor: In a lean organization, making lean easy to maintain is critical. One common technique is to provide visual cues that alert anyone in an area how a process should be completed, or how a workstation should be setup. 5S utilizes visual cues to ensure that work cells maintain proper layouts. The cues often include lines painted on the floor and other markings in the area indicating where materials and tools should be staged and stored.

Visual Metrics: Lean requires constant attention and focus, and implementing visual metrics is an effective way to provide this focus. Visual metrics can cover any aspect of an organization. In lean, some of the more common metrics that are tracked and posted are throughput, quality, safety, productivity, machine uptime, and customer service.

Visual Status Indicators: Visual status indicators are typically light based indictors providing a simple status of a process. The indicators are often used to signal a problem that must be addressed. In this case, the light turns on when the problem condition occurs.

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Waste: The simplest way to describe waste or Losses is as “Something that adds no Value.” Our customers would not be happy to pay for any action that we take that does not add value to what they actually want and nor should we be.

World Class Manufacturing (WCM): World Class Manufacturing is a systematic approach to eliminating losses in business operations. WCM starts from the theoretically ideal situation, this means that involved employees have the production processes always run without losses.

Waste Walk: A waste walk, also known as a Gemba Walk, is a lean technique for identifying waste. Typically, the walk will be conducted by several individuals, allowing the participants to learn from each other. In a rigorous waste walk, dozens or hundreds of opportunities can be quickly identified. Waste walks can focus on a particular area, a type of waste, or cover anything the participants see.

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Zero Quality Control: Zero quality control is a methodology designed to shift quality to the process and eliminate the need for external quality inspections. A zero quality control system typically includes error-proofing, “source inspection” and employee empowerment as well as other quality initiatives.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z 

Hope you find this article useful and please dont heasitate to contact us if you have any questions or any feedback to improve this tool list.