about opex selection

Click on one of the tabs below to see a list of terms in that letter range and then click on a term to see the definition

A visual control device in a production area, typically a lighted overhead display, giving the current status of the production system and alerting team members to emerging problems.
Automation with a human touch. Refers to semi-automatic processes where the operator and machine work together. Autonomation allows man-machine separation. Also referred to Jidoka.
All operations or cells produce at the same cycle time. In a balanced system, the cell cycle time is less than take time.
By focusing not only on financial outcomes but also on the operational, marketing and developmental inputs to these, the Balanced Scorecard helps provide a more comprehensive view of a business, which in turn helps organizations act in their best long-term interests. This tool is also being used to address business response to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations were encouraged to measure, in addition to financial outputs, those factors which influenced the financial outputs. For example, process performance, market share / penetration, long term learning and skills development, and so on.
Producing more than one piece of an item and then moving those items forward to the next operation before that are all actually needed there. Thus, items need to wait in a queue.
The process of measuring products, services, and practices against those of leading / world-class organisations.
A best-known example of performance in a particular operation. One needs to define both the class and the operation to avoid using the term loosely.
A blitz is a fast and focused process for improving some component of business a product line, a machine, or a process. It utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a quick problem-solving exercise, where they focus on designing solutions to meet some well-defined goals.
Business Process Improvement is a systematic approach to help an organization optimise its underlying processes to achieve more efficient results.
BPM is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organisation with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology.
Where a series of non-bottlenecks, based on the sequence in which they perform their jobs can act as a constraint.
A series of discussion between managers and their employees during which data, ideas, and analysis are thrown like a ball. This opens productive dialogue throughout the entire company.
The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence, typically in a U-shape, to permit single piece flow and flexible deployment of human effort.
A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds from machine to machine, taking the part from one machine and loading it into the next.
The catalytic force moving firms and value streams out of the world of inward-looking batch-and-queue.
The installation of a new type of tool in a metal working machine, a different paint in a painting system, a new plastic resin and new mold in an injection molding machine, new software in a computer, and so on.
Anything that limits a system from achieving higher performance, or throughput.
Means that items are produced and moved from one processing step to the next one piece at a time. Each process makes only the one piece that the next process needs, and the transfer batch size is one. Also called "single-piece flow" or "one-piece flow."

Continuous Improvement Process (CIP or CI) is a management process whereby delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.

Some see it as a meta-process for most management systems (Business Process Management, Quality Management, Project Management). Deming saw it as part of the 'system' whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organisational goals. The fact that it can be called a management process does not mean that it needs to be executed by 'management' merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and the design of the delivery process itself.

Some successful implementations use the approach known as Kaizen (the translation of kai (“change”) zen (“good”) is “improvement”). This method became famous by the book of Masaaki Imai “Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success.”

The core principle of CIP is the (self) reflection of processes (Feedback). The purpose of CIP is the identification, reduction, and elimination of suboptimal processes (Efficiency). The emphasis of CIP is on incremental, continuous steps, avoiding quantum leaps (Evolution).

The elements above are more tactical elements of CIP, the more strategic elements include deciding how to increase the value of the delivery process output to the customer (Effectiveness) and how much flexibility is valuable in the process to meet changing needs.

The impact of one variable upon others in the same group.
Helps visualize the current production process and identify sources of waste.
How frequently an item or product actually is completed by a process, as timed by direct observation. Also, the time it takes an operator to go through all of his or her work elements before repeating them.
The Six Sigma DMAIC process methodology is a system that brings measurable and significant improvement to existing processes that are falling below specifications. The DMAIC methodology can be used when a product or process is in existence at your company but is not meeting customer specification or is otherwise not performing adequately. DMAIC is an acronym for five interconnected phases: 1 Define the project goals and deliverables for both internal and external customers 2 Measure the process to determine current performance 3 Analyze and determine the root cause(s) of the defects 4 Improve the process by eliminating defects 5 Control future process performance
The Six Sigma DMADV process (define, measure, analyze, design, verify) is an improvement system used to develop new processes or products at Six Sigma quality levels.
Designing a potential failure or cause of failure out of a product or process
Five terms (beginning with ‘S’) utilized to create a workplace suited for visual control and lean production - SORT, SIMPLIFY, SCRUB, STANDARDIZE, SUSTAIN. - Sort means to separate needed tools, parts, and instruction from unneeded materials and to remove the latter. - Simplify means to neatly arrange and identify parts and tools for ease of use. - Scrub means to conduct a cleanup campaign. - Standardize means to conduct Sort, Simplify, and Scrub at frequent intervals to maintain a workplace in perfect condition. - Sustain means to form the habit of always following the first four.
Stands for "first in, first out," which means that material produced by one process is used up in the same order by the next process. FIFO is one way to regulate a queue between two decoupled processes when a supermarket or continuous flow are impractical. A FIFO queue is filled by the supplying process and emptied by the customer process. When a FIFO queue gets full, the supplying process must stop producing until the customer process has used up some of the inventory.
A main objective of the entire lean production effort, and one of the key concepts that passed directly from Henry Ford to Taiichi Ohno (Toyota's production manager after WWII). Ford recognized that, ideally, production should flow continuously all the way from raw material to the customer and envisioned realizing that ideal through a production system that acted as one long conveyor.
The practice of grouping machines or activities by type of operation performed.
A blueprint for lean implementation. Your organization¹s vision, which forms the basis of your implementation plan by helping to design how the process should operate.
A method of levelling production at the final assembly line that makes just-in-time production possible. This involves averaging both the volume and sequence of different model types on a mixed-model production line. Often referred to as ‘Production Smoothing’.

Also known as Management by Policy or Strategy Deployment. A means by which goals are established and measures are created to ensure progress toward those goals. HP keeps activities at all levels of the company aligned with its overarching strategic plans.

HP typically begins with the "visioning process" which addresses the key questions:

  • Where do you want to be in the future?
  • How do want to get there?
  • When do you want to achieve your goal?
  • And who will be involved in achieving the goals?

HP then systematically explodes the whats, whos and hows throughout the entire organisation.

Principles that are fundamental to Time-Based Competition waste elimination, process simplification, set-up and batch-size reduction, parallel processing, and layout redesign are critical skills in every facet of the lean organization. JIT is a system for producing and delivering the right items at the right time, in the right amounts. The key elements of Just-in-Time are Flow, Pull, Standard Work, and Takt Time.
Radical improvement of an activity to eliminate muda, for example by reorganising processing operations for a product so that instead of travelling to and from isolated "process villages," the product proceeds through the operations in single-piece flow in one short space. Also called breakthrough kaizen, flow kaizen, and system kaizen.
Continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less waste. The term Kaizen Blitz refers to a team approach to quickly tear down and rebuild a process layout to function more efficiently.
A signalling device that gives instruction for production or conveyance of items in a pull system. Can also be used to perform kaizen by reducing the number of Kanban in circulation, which highlights line problems.
The total time a customer must wait to receive a product after placing an order. When a scheduling and production system is running at or below capacity, lead time and throughput time are the same. When demand exceeds the capacity of a system, there is additional waiting time before the start of scheduling and production, and lead time exceeds throughput time.

Lean is a methodology that focuses on improving workflow, eliminating waste and delivering value. The concept of Lean is not restricted to manufacturing and applies to the whole enterprise, including the supply chain, the new product development process and the provision of service.

In the book, 'Lean Thinking', five Lean Principles are defined:

  1. Specify what creates value from the customer's perspective
  2. Identify all the steps across the whole value stream
  3. Make those actions which create value flow
  4. Only make what is pulled by the customer just-in-time
  5. Strive for perfection by continually removing successive layers of waste
A computerized system typically used to determine the quantity and timing requirements for delivery and production of items. Using MRP specifically to schedule production at processes in a value stream results in push production, because any predetermined schedule is only an estimate of what the next process will actually need. Manufacturing Resource Planning - often called MRP II - expands MRP to include capacity planning, a finance interface to translate operations planning into financial terms, and a simulation tool to assess alternative production plans.
Minitab is a statistics package often used by Six Sigma practitioners.
Any change to an operation that helps the operator to reduce or eliminate mistakes.
Anything that interrupts the flow of products and services through the value stream and out to the customer is designated Muda or waste.
Activities or actions taken that add no real value to the product or service making such activities or action a form of waste.
An activity or activities performed on a product by a single machine. Contrast with 'Process’.

Operational Excellence (OpEx) is a philosophy of leadership, teamwork and problem solving resulting in continuous improvement throughout the organisation by focusing on the needs of the customer, empowering employees, and optimising existing activities in the process.

Operational Excellence's values lie within Safety, Quality, Productivity, Human Development, Cost, and Implementation of OE.

Operational Excellence stresses the need to continually improve by promoting a stronger teamwork atmosphere. Safety and quality improvements for employees and customers lead towards becoming a better enterprise.

A four step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement.


Senior management should use the visioning process in the context of its Business Plan. HP translates the Business Plans to action plans, meaningful to all levels of the organisation.


Answer the whats, hows, and whos for the total number of tiers for your organisation; remember, the fewer the number of tiers, the better. Also, this is the time to bring management together and provide them with a basic understanding of HP mechanics.


On a periodic basis, review the measurements and note what you´ve learned that can help in the future.


Make the necessary adjustments to plans and priorities in order to ensure the success of the strategy breakthroughs.

Always optimizing value-added activities and eliminating waste.
A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacture. An order-taking example is a screen for order input developed from traditional ordering patterns that question orders falling outside the pattern. The suspect orders are then examined, often leading to the discovery of inputting errors or buying based on misinformation. A manufacturing example is a set of photocells in parts containers along an assembly line to prevent components from progressing to the next stage with missing parts. A poka-yoke is sometimes called a baka-yok.
The flow of material in time and space. The accumulation of sub-processes or operations that transform material from raw material to finished product.
Improvements made at an individual process or in a specific area. Sometimes called "point kaizen".
The time a product is actually being worked on in a machine or work area.

See 'Heijunka'...

A method of levelling production at the final assembly line that makes just-in-time production possible. This involves averaging both the volume and sequence of different model types on a mixed-model production line. Often referred to as ‘Production Smoothing’

A system of cascading production and delivery instructions from downstream to upstream activities in which the upstream supplier waits until the downstream customer signals a need. A pull system means producing only what has been consumed by downstream activities or customers
One of the 3 elements of JIT. In the pull systems, the downstream process takes the product they need and pulls it from the producer. This customer’s pull is a signal to the producer that the product is sold. The pull system links accurate information with the process to minimize waiting and overproduction. In essence it is activating a process when the customer wants to receive, not when the supplier wants to provide.
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.
A visual decision-making procedure for multi-skilled project teams which develops a common understanding of the voice of the customer and a consensus on the final engineering specifications of the product that has the commitment of the entire team. QFD integrates the perspectives of team members from different disciplines, ensures that their efforts are focused on resolving key trade-offs in a consistent manner against measurable performance targets for the product, and deploys these decisions through successive levels of detail. The use of QFD eliminates expensive backflows and rework as projects near launch.

Quality management can be considered to have three main components:

Quality Control (QC):

Aassurance and failure testing in design and production of products or services, to meet or exceed customer requirements.

Quality Assurance (QA):

Planned and systematic production processes that provide confidence in a product's suitability for its intended purpose.

Quality Improvement:

Product improvement, process improvement and people based improvement.

Quality management is focused not only on product quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management therefore uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality.

The ability to change tooling and fixtures rapidly (usually minutes), so multiple products can be run on the same machine.
The time a product spends in a line awaiting the next design, order processing, or fabrication step.
Using a resource in a way that increases throughput.
The engine that drives Time-Based Competition. To gain speed, firms must apply the principles of reengineering to rethink and redesign every process and move it closer to the customer.
An outside master or teacher that assists in implementing lean practices.
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 minimized 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.
Taiichi Ohno¹s original catalogue of the wastes commonly found in physical production. These are overproduction ahead of demand, waiting for the next processing stop, unnecessary transport of materials, over-processing of parts due to poor tool and product design, inventories more than the absolute minimum, unnecessary movement by employees during the course of their work, and production of defective parts.
SMED is a series of techniques designed for changeovers of production machinery in less than ten minutes. The long-term objective is always Zero Setup, in which changeovers are instantaneous and do not interfere in any way with continuous flow.
A situation in which products proceed, one complete product at a time, through various operations in design, order taking, and production, without interruptions, backflows, or scrap.

Six Sigma at many organisations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving towards six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process - from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.

The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications. A Six Sigma opportunity is then the total quantity of chances for a defect. Process sigma can easily be calculated using a Six Sigma calculator.

The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology is the implementation of a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction through the application of Six Sigma improvement projects. This is accomplished through the use of two Six Sigma sub-methodologies: DMAIC and DMADV. The Six Sigma DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) is an improvement system for existing processes falling below specification and looking for incremental improvement.

The Six Sigma DMADV process (define, measure, analyze, design, verify) is an improvement system used to develop new processes or products at Six Sigma quality levels. It can also be employed if a current process requires more than just incremental improvement.

Both Six Sigma processes are executed by Six Sigma Green Belts and Six Sigma Black Belts, and are overseen by Six Sigma Master Black Belts.

A map of the path taken by a specific product as it travels down the value stream in a mass-production organisation, so-called because the product's route typically looks like a plate of spaghetti.
These involve comparison with accepted norms, such as are set by regulatory bodies.
A precise description of each work activity specifying cycle time, takt time, the work sequence of specific tasks, and the minimum inventory of parts on hand needed to conduct the activity.

A supply chain is a system of organisations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer. In sophisticated supply chain systems, used products may re-enter the supply chain at any point where residual value is recyclable. Supply chains link value chains.

An illustration of a company's supply chain; the arrows stand for supplier-relationship management, internal SCM and customer-relationship management. A typical supply chain begins with ecological and biological regulation of natural resources, followed by the human extraction of raw material, and includes several production links (e.g., component construction, assembly, and merging) before moving on to several layers of storage facilities of ever-decreasing size and ever more remote geographical locations, and finally reaching the consumer.

Many of the exchanges encountered in the supply chain will therefore be between different companies that will seek to maximize their revenue within their sphere of interest, but may have little or no knowledge or interest in the remaining players in the supply chain.

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the management of a network of interconnected businesses involved in the ultimate provision of product and service required by end customers (Harland, 1996). Supply Chain Management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption (supply chain).

Another definition is provided by the APICS Dictionary when it defines SCM as the "design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally."

Improvement aimed at an entire value stream.
A condition where gains made in one activity are offset by losses in another activity or activities, created by the same actions crating gains in the first activity.
The available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. For example, if customers demand 240 widgets per day and the factory operations 480 minutes per day, takt time is two minutes; if customers want two new products designed per month, takt time is two weeks. Takt time sets the pace of production to match the rate of customer demand and becomes the heartbeat of any lean system.
A lean management philosophy that stresses removal of constraints to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operating expenses.
The time required for a product to proceed from concept to launch, order to delivery, or raw materials into the hands of the customer. This includes both processing and queue time.
TPM is a series of methods, originally pioneered to ensure that every machine in a production process is always able to perform its required tasks so that production is never interrupted.
A capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer.
With this activity, a process improvement team strips the process down to it essential elements. The team isolates the activities that in the eyes of the customer actually add value to the product or service. The remaining non-value adding activities (waste) are targeted for extinction.
Activities outside of your organization that add value to your final product, such as the value adding activities of your suppliers.
The specific activities required to design, order and provide a specific product, from concept to launch, order to delivery, and raw materials into the hands of the customer.
Highlights the sources of waste and eliminates them by implementing a future state value stream that can become reality within a short time.
The placement in plain view of all tools, parts, production activities, and indicators of production system performance so everyone involved can understand the status of the system at a glance.
Anything that uses resources, but does not add real value to the product or service.
Product or inventory in various stages of completion throughout the plant, from raw material to completed product.
Produced product related to scheduled product.

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