5S Glossary


Andon: A production area visual control device, such as a lighted overhead display. It communicates the status of the production system and alerts team members to emerging
problems (from andon, a Japanese word meaning “light”).

Andon Board: A visual control device in a work area, typically a lighted overhead display giving the current status (green, yellow, red) of each step in the production system and alerting team leaders and supervisors to existing or emerging production problems.

Automation: Employing machines to do the work of people. The steam engine and the automation that it enabled was the backbone of the Industrial Revolution.

Autonomation (Jikoka): Autonomation describes a feature of machine design to effect the principle of jidoka  used in the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Lean manufacturing. It may be described as "intelligent automation" or "automation with a human touch

Automatic Time: The time when a machine is running on an automatic cycle and a person is not needed to operate the equipment.    


Batch Production: Batch Production is a technique used in manufacturing, in which the object in question is created stage by stage over a series of workstations..

Breakthrough Improvement (Kaikaku): Breakthrough Improvement is a major, significant improvement that occurs after many small, incremental improvements (kaizen).

Chaku-Chaku: Chaku Chaku is a Japanese Lean term that translates to load-load. This is in reference to process the operator follows-loading machine after machine in a chaku-chaku line with no need to unload. Because of the rapid nature of the chaku-chaku cell, it will often be comprised of a number of single-function, right-sized machines.

Changeover Time:  Changeover is the time it takes to go from the last good part of one product run to the first good part of the next product run. Quick changeover is critical to Lean. It provides the flexibility to match the product mix to actual demand.

Continuous Flow: Continuous flow is the act of moving a product through the production process from start to finish without stopping. In pure continuous flow, the cycle time equals the lead time, as the product never sits in a queue waiting to be worked on.

Concrete Head: Concrete Head is a Japanese term for someone who resists and will not accept change.  and customer satisfaction and other concpets inherent to a lean production system.  

Cycle Time: Cycle Time is the time it takes to do a process.Cycle time is measured, usually with a stop watch. The actual time it takes to complete a process from start to finish to produce one element.


Elimination of Waste: All activities undertaken need to be evaluated to determine if they are necessary or unnecessary as defined by the customer. The philosophy of waste elimination is the backbone of the Toyota Production System.

Employee Involvement: Continuous Improvement will be based on Employee Involvement. Employees who do the job every day have vital information for eliminating waste and adding value and solving real problems.

Error Proofing: Developing a system so that it is impossible to make a mistake or produce a defect.


Five Why’s:

The 5 Whys is a questions-asking method used to explore the cause and effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem. By asking “why” five times. The purpose is to get to the root cause of the problems instead of addressing the symptoms. By asking and answering why five times, the root cause becomes evident and the proper corrective action can be taken.

Flow Production: Flow Production is the act of moving a product through the production process from start to finish without stopping. In pure flow production, the cycle time equals the lead time, as the product never sits in a queue waiting to be worked on.


Gemba: Japanese translation and define gemba as meaning the real place. The real place can be in an engineering cubicle, at a cash register in a retail store, or in front of a computer where orders are entered.

Gembutsu: Gembutsu is a Japanese word meaning ‘real thing’. It is one of the components of the ‘Three Reals‘ meaning go to the real place (gemba) to see the real thing (gembutsu) and collect the real facts (genjitsu).

Genjitsu: In Japanese, it refers to the “real facts” or reliable and observed data required to understand what the real situation or problem is.


Hanedashi: A hanedashi device is an automatic part ejector. It reduces waste when an operator approaches a machine to load the next part. In a machine without a hanedashi device, the operator would have to set down the new part that he would be carrying to the machine, pull out the completed part and set it down, pick up the new part, load it, and then pick up the completed part again.


With hanedashi, the operator will walk up to an empty machine, and would be able to immediately load the new part, pick up the completed part, and move on.

Hoshin Kanri: Hoshin Kanri is a Japanese term meaning policy deployment or strategic planning .


Just In Time (JIT):  Just in Time manufacturing is the method of producing products with only a minimal amount of raw material and component parts on hand.


The concept of Just in Time manufacturing is nothing new. Henry Ford saw value in having a minimal amount of stock on hand—a concept which Taiichi Ohno took to heart as he developed the Toyota Production System. In fact, Just in Time manufacturing is one of the central pillars of TPS.


Just in Time manufacturing uses many Lean tools to achieve dramatic reductions in inventory, with kanban cards and setup reduction having the biggest impact.


In its most extreme application, Just in Time manufacturing can result in producers getting paid long before they pay their suppliers.


Consider a make-to-order computer producer that collects payment when the order is placed, but has only a few days of inventory on hand. As orders come in, they use their small amount of inventory, and re-order offsetting quantities every day, often with 30-day terms or longer.


Just in Time manufacturing creates a very advantageous cash flow position, freeing up working capital for growth or other projects.


Kaizen (Continuous Improvement): An organizational attitude, approach and philosophy to doing business. It is the key thrust to maintaining or achieving competitive advantage through a well managed, dynamic change process. It is customer focused, ever changing, and maximized when all associates use kaizen to achieve the primary quality, cost , delivery, safety, and morale goals. The key to kaizen is to use it as a tool to accomplish the policy deployment breakthrough objectives.

Kanban (signboard): Designates a pull production means of communicating need for product or service. Originally developed as a means to communicate between operations in different locations, it was intended to communicate a change in demand or supply. In application, it is generally used to trigger the movement of material to or though a process.


Level Scheduling (Heijunka): The creation of a level schedule by sequencing orders in a repetitive pattern and smoothing the day to day variations in total orders to correspond to longer-term demand. In other words, crating a production schedule based on a constant volume needed within a given time and variety of product called “mixed lot” production. The goal is to average both the volume and the mix of products.


Make It Ugly: Kaizen and TPS does not fix everything right now. Instead, it exposes problems that need to be fixed. Instead of covering up the problems, make it “ugly” as possible so it gets attention. What gets our attention gets resolved. This is a very difficult concept for Western managers to embrace.

Milk Run: A routing of a supply or delivery vehicle to make multiple pickups or drop-offs at different locations on a regularly scheduled basis.

Mistake Proofing (Poke-Yoke): Developing a system so that it is impossible to make a mistake or produce a defect.

Monument: Any design, scheduling, or production technology with scale requirements necessitating that designs, order and products be brought to a machine to wait in a queue for processing. Contrast with right-sized tool. A piece of equipment (usually large and expensive) that cannot easily/inexpensively be moved, even if it would be good to so do in terms of TPS principles. Also, continuous improvement requires continuous re-arrangement; therefore monuments are waste.

Muda and the 7 wastes: Waste. Any activity that consumes resources but creates no value.

They are waste from 1. over production, 2. waiting or idle time, 3. transportation, 4. inefficiency of the process itself, 5. inventory, 6. unnecessary motion and effort and 7. defects.

Mura: Overloading an area or asking for otherwise unreasonable work.

Muri: Uneven flow of parts.


Nichijo Kanri: Daily fundamental management. This is the opposite of Hoshin Kanii or Policy Deployment, which is the direction setting management or strategic planning function.


Pull System: A production method in which the production of an item starts only when there is actual demand from a customer (as opposed to anticipated from a forecast). The demand of that customer starts (pulls) the next downstream operation into the production process, etc. The opposite of pull production is push production.

Push Production: The typical method of “pushing” large lots of material through the system, usually managed by a complicated (often computerized) process to track where items are and how to connect these items into a customer satisfaction unit. Inevitability this leads to other wasteful processes, such as expediting. The production of items based on a predetermined schedule or forecast. The result is inventory – manufactured items for which there is not yet a customer. A push system is the exact opposite of a pull system.


Q,C,S,D,M: These are the basic drivers of every business and are Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety and Morale.


Right Sized Tool: A design, scheduling, or production device/tool that can be fitted directly into the flow of products within a product family so that production no longer requires unnecessary transport and waiting. Contrast with monument.


Spaghetti Chart: A map (floor plan) of the path taken by a specific product/part/material/person as it or they travel through the value stream in a mass-production organization, so-called because the product’s route typically looks as disorganized as a plate of spaghetti.

Standard Work: Standard work lists the normal tasks done with the least amount of waste possible at the current time (of course, it will continually be improved.) Standard work includes the amount of time needed for each task. Standard work focuses on the employee, not the equipment or the materials. Standard work is completed by the actual operator performing the task since they know best the details of the process. Standard work is often confused with work standards and/or work instructions. They are not the same thing. Standard work reduces variation an increases consistency that is necessary for first-time quality.

Standard Work Combination Sheet: A form that visually charts the information from a time sheet observation form in terms of an employees activity, machine time and moving time. It separates time between: man, machine and movement (walking).

Standard Work Sheet: A form to visually describe the standard operation, including inspection steps, safety issues, and standard work in process. It is a layout of the cell area with all the movement/steps in process noted like a spaghetti diagram.


Taiichi Ohno: Taiichi Ohno (February 29, 1912-May 28,1990) is considered by many to be the father of the Toyota Production System. He eventually rose to the rank of executive vice president in the company.

While Ohno had many innovative ideas and published several landmark books, perhaps his biggest creative leap was integrating the American supermarket system of resupply into the automotive industry. He was able to lay the foundation for kanban systems, pull, and one-piece flow by changing the way components were supplied to production processes.

Taiichi Ohno was also known for his approach to problems. He looked at problems as opportunities for improvement, and relentlessly attacked waste.

Takt Time: Takt time is a calculated value. The formula for takt time is AVAILABLE PRODUCTION TIME / CUSTOMER DEMAND. Since takt time is defined by the customer (denominator), it becomes a very important number in a lean environment and drives all shop floor decisions.

Throughput Time: The time required for a product to go thought a process. Usually, throughput time is measured from the receipt of raw material until that raw material is shipped to the customer. Some companies begin the process with the receipt of a customer’s order.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): Preventative maintenance carried out by all employees. It is equipment maintenance performed on a company wide basis. TPS has five goals: 1. Maximize equipment effectiveness. 2. Develop a system of productive maintenance for the life of the equipment, 3.Involve all departments that plan, design, use, or maintain equipment in implementing TPM. 4.Actively involve all employees. 5. Promote TPM through motivational management.

Toyota Production System (TPS) The Toyota Production System began in post World War II Japan as a way of managing operations in a challenging economic time. The Toyota Production System really began as a synthesis of Henry Ford’s operations and those of the U.S. supermarket system. The Toyota Production System is the first example of modern Lean. (One of the earliest uses of the term ‘Lean’ comes in The Machine That Changed the World.)

Taiichi Ohno, often credited as the founder of the Toyota Production System saw the value in using supermarket-like inventory management to make production systems more efficient.

Among other things, the Toyota Production System introduced the ability to be more flexible in car manufacturing. In the early years, Ford’s production lines were very static. The early Model-T’s in fact, had very few options, and those that were available were installed toward the end of the production process.

The Toyota Production System, with lower inventory, better signals, and short changeovers, made providing multiple product options a real possibility.

The Toyota Production System is really a management system that uses Lean tools to do problem solving.


Value Steam Mapping: Identification of all the specific activities occurring along a value stream for a product or product family. This is part of creating a lean enterprise. The output should be a list of action items to be done to improve the process.

W, X, Y and Z

Waterstrider (Mizusumashi): Water-beetle or Water-spider. A term used to describe the activities of the person responsible for maintaining correct inventories on the production line.


Deploying Lean Principles to ERP Implementation Projects, Alexander Hankewicz 

The Machine That Changed The World, James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos, ISBN: 978-1847370556 

Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System (TPS), ISBN: 978-0915299140 

5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace, Hiroyuki Hirano, ISBN 978-1563270475 

The New Lean Toolbox, John Bicheno, ISBN 978-0954124410 

5S - The Housekeeping Approach Within Lean, Ian Henderson 

5S For Everyone, http://www.iomnet.org.uk