Terms A-B


Abnormality Management

The ability to see and respond to an abnormality (any violation of standard operations) in a timely manner. This is the responsibility of all employees and owners of the company. We call this management by majority.


Activity Based Management

A system for calculating the cost of products based on apportioning non-touch labor costs to specific products which is then based on the level of “support” activities required. (Instead of placing all support activities into Overhead pools and then apportioning the costs based on direct labor of each product). “Support” activities are cost based on repetition of specific “activity” categories. Costs for those activities are pooled and then divided by the number of activities performed in a given period of time.   Developed in the late 1980’s by Robert Kaplan and Robin Cooper of Harvard.


Analytical Approach

1) An approach to management improvement.

2) It is an approach based on learning from the evaluation and analysis of past experience.



Japanese term for a signal. A system of flashing lights is typically used to indicate that some aspect of the process needs attention in one or more work centers. They can reflect potential quality problems identified by an operator or the need for materials replenishment; the number of lights and their possible colors can vary, even by work center within a plant; however, the primary colors and their meanings are:

  • Green - no problems
  • Yellow - situation requires attention
  • Red - production stopped; attention urgently needed

Andon Board

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.


Automatic Parts Ejection  (See Handeshi)



(English translation of Jidoka) Sakichi Toyoda initially developed this technique in 1902 when he invented a loom that would stop automatically if any of the threads snapped. This breakthrough allowed one worker to monitor 12 instead of 1 machine. The idea behind Autonomation is to separate man from machine so that man can perform higher value added work by providing machines and operators the ability to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop work. This enables operations to build-in quality at each process and to separate person and machines for more efficient work. (See: Jidoka Flexible Manning)



Back to Zero

This is a Business Paradigm which simply means that when a radical improvement is introduced into a product or service, all the market advantages that once belonged to leaders in that niche disappear. Most cited example was the Swiss watch market domination that disappeared with the invention (by the Swiss) and subsequent production of quartz movement watches by U.S. and Japanese companies.



A calculation performed by MRPII which:

Subtracts from the on hand inventory all components, sub-components, sub assemblies the quantities consumed in the assembly or manufacture of a product.

Increases the inventory of the finished product.

Decrements from the on-order quantity the number of finished products completed.

Calculation is triggered by manual intervention once a product is completed.



 A manufacturing technique of preventing mistakes by designing the manufacturing process, equipment, and tools so that an operation literally cannot be performed incorrectly; an attempt to perform incorrectly, as well as being prevented, is usually met with a warning signal of some sort; the term "mistake proofing" is sometimes referred to as a system where only a warning is provided. (see poka-yoke, mistake proofing, error proofing)


Balanced Plant

A plant where capacity of all available resources are balanced exactly with market demand. This is believed to only be achievable by companies able to sustain lean principles for a period of time; in most cases it take three years to clarify sustainment.


Balanced Production 

1) All operations and/or cells are producing at the same cycle time.

2) In a balanced production system, the cell cycle time is less than takt time. 


Baseline Assessment

A process for taking a snapshot of the current operating position of a plant. Included in the analysis are metric performance data, demand segmentation, cost analysis, organization structure, flow charts, value added analysis, work sampling results, customer feedback and quality results. This process is intended to document the need for change and focus site leadership on key opportunities.



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. (opposite of "one piece flow")


Batch Manufacturing

A production strategy that is commonly employed in "job-shops" and other instances where there is discrete manufacturing of a non-repetitive nature. In batch manufacturing, order lots (based on aggregated demand) are maintained throughout the production process to minimize changeovers and achieve economies of scale. In batch manufacturing environments, resources are usually departmentalized by specialty and very seldom dedicated to any particular product family.


Batch Size

This is the number of pieces or units that are aggregated into a group for processing. Batch size is based on either economical order quantity or the product family turnover rate (capacity limited).



The process of measuring products, services, and practices against those of leading companies. To focus on best practices and methods of world class leaders, regardless of industry, and use the information to improve its own performance.



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.


Bill of Materials

A hierarchical, usually documented representation of all components, parts and sub-assemblies that go into a final assembled product. The BOM contains required quantities of each component and drawing revision letter for each component.


Bird Cage

1) A grouping of machines with similar functions utilizing only one operator at all times.

2) Highly used in job shops where the operator is enclosed on all sides (like a bird cage) to complete the entire production process them self.

3) Unlike cells where the number of machines are fixed but the number of operators will vary based on customer demand (Takt-Time). Bird Cage is generally a fixed number of machines and only one operator is assigned at all times. If demand increases on-time performance suffers unless there is excess capacity in the first place or if other alternative cells are available. 



Also known as an impact event, this is a quick and focused process for improving some component of business ­ a product line, a machine, or a process. It ideally utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a problem-solving exercise, where they focus on designing solutions. For a Kaizen blitz to be effective the following guidelines should be adhered to: Keep it 3 to 5 days in length (there must be a start and a finish date), small in scope (if the problem seems too big the team will go off into to many other directions), no more then 5 people (4 attendees should be knowledgeable about the component of the business to improve, and the 5th person who is not familiar with the process should be the facilitator. The facilitator’s role is to keep the knowledgeable people on course and to ask why we do the things we do; "5 Whys"). 



1) Any resource whose capacity is equal to, or less than the demand placed on it. 2) The machine, operation, activity, or a group of linked operations with the lowest effective capacity. See Constraint.


Brain Storming

Brainstorming is a group technique for generating new, useful ideas and promoting creative thinking. It can be used to help 1) define what project or problem to work on, 2) to diagnose problems , 3) remediate a project by coming up with possible solutions and to identify possible resistance to proposed solutions. 


Bread man

Supplier replenishment system that ensures material availability on demand while minimizing inventory required. Most effectively used as part of a point-of-use replenishment application, i.e. a “bread man” replenishes bread to supermarket shelves on a regular schedule, placing new bread on shelf space emptied up by customer demand. Also see “Water Spider”. 

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