Terms K-L



Innovative, degree(s) of magnitude leaps in improvement, technology or process and system changes, sometimes used as a precursor to Kaizen activities, usually applied only once within a business process, that affects the entire value stream.



 A combination of two Japanese words Kai (change) and Zen (good). Usually defined as "continuous improvement." The philosophy of continual improvement, that every process can and should be continually evaluated and improved in terms of time required, resources used, resultant quality, and other aspects relevant to the process. When applied to the workplace, Kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone - managers and workers alike. Kaizen is not limited to manufacturing systems only. It also means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life.


Kaizen Breakthrough

A time-sensitive, rapid-deployment methodology that employs a focused, team-based approach. Continuous improvement.


Kaizen Culture

An organizational culture based on the three super ordinate principles - Process and Results, Systemic Thinking, and Non-judgmental, Non-Blaming.


Kaizen Strategy

A business strategy that begins with the customers' needs concerning Quality, Cost, and Delivery, is founded on a people-oriented culture, is supported by an involved leadership, and consists of three integrated core elements — Principles and Concepts; Systems; and Tools.



A communication tool in the "just-in-time" production and inventory control system which authorizes production or movement. It was developed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota. Kanban is a card or signboard (or any other authorizing device) that is attached to specific parts in the production line signifying the delivery of a given quantity. The quantity authorized per individual kanban is minimal, ideally one. The number of circulating or available kanban for an item is determined by the demand rate for the item and the time required to produce or acquire more. This number generally is established and remains unchanged unless demand or other circumstances are altered dramatically; in this way inventory is kept under control while production is forced to keep pace with shipment volume. A routine exception to this rule is that managers and workers are continually exhorted to improve their processes and thereby reduce the number of kanban required. When fully implemented, kanban (the plural is the same as the singular) operates according to the following rules:

  1. All production and movement of parts and material take place only as required by a downstream operation, i.e. all manufacturing and procurement are ultimately driven by the requirements of final assembly or the equivalent.
  2. The specific tool which authorizes production or movement is called a kanban. The word literally means card or sign, but it can legitimately refer to a container or other authorizing device. Kanban have various formats and content as appropriate
  3. The quantity authorized per individual kanban is minimal, ideally one. The number of circulating or available kanban for an item is determined by the demand rate for the item and the time required to produce or acquire more.  


Death from overwork. 



Lead Time (Manufacturing)

 The time to manufacture and deliver a product or service. This term is used in many (often contradictory) contexts. To avoid confusion, lead time is defined as the average total elapse time for execution of the product delivery process from order receipt to delivery to the customer, under normal operating conditions. In industries that operate in a build-to-order environment, lead times flex based on the influences of seasonal demand loads. In environments where production is scheduled in repeating, fixed-time segments or cycles, the lead time is usually determined by the length of the production cycle (i.e., days, weeks, months, etc.). In service industries, lead time represents the total time elapsed from when a customer expresses a need to when that need is satisfied.


Lead Time (Total)

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.



An essential part of the quality improvement effort. Organizational leaders must shape the culture and establish a vision, communicate that vision to the people and provide the systems, tools, and skills necessary to accomplish it.



The concept of creating processes which are highly responsive and flexible to customer demand requirements. Successful lean implementation is evident when processes are capable of consistently delivering the highest quality products and services, at the right location, at the right time, in response to customer demand and doing this in the most effective and efficient manner possible. The central tenant of Lean is the elimination of waste.


Lean Conversion

Business processes requiring less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of operation. (See Lean manufacturing)


Lean Enterprise

All aspects of an organization, from the beginning of the supply chain, through the production process, and including your customer base. As you 'lean' your organization, you will find that certain constraints exist outside of your company. 


Lean Manufacturing

1) The philosophy of continually reducing waste in all areas and in all forms;

2) An English phrase coined to summarize Japanese manufacturing techniques (specifically, the Toyota Production System). 


Lean Production

1) A business system for organizing and managing product development, operations, suppliers, and customer relations that requires less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products with fewer defects to precise customers.

2) Using the minimum amount of total resources (man, materials, money, machines, etc) to produce a product and deliver it on time. 


Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking explains the basic principles and clearly demonstrates simple ideas can breathe new life into any company in any industry, routinely doubling both productivity and sales while stabilizing employment. The five principles guide managers to achieve lean in the manufacturing and services industry.

  • Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer.
  • Identify all the steps in the value stream.
  • Make the value creating steps flow toward the customer.
  • Let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  • Pursue perfection.

Line Balancing

 A scheduling method that nets out demand and production over time. The “line of balance” is typically a spreadsheet where weekly production is subtracted from bucketed demand to give a “remainder” which is due next week. The shop works off of the balance due. 


Line Capacity

The maximum output of a given set of operations based on the rate-determining step or pacing operation. The capacity may be determined by machine speed, operator speed, set-up/changeover time, or operation yield. See Pacemaker Process.


Line Configuration

The orientation of machines and/or workstations to each other. There are several standard line configurations: Pod / Workstation, L shaped, U Shaped, Straight Line, Combi Line.



A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds form machine to machine, taking the part from one machine and loading it into the next. [Same as Chaku-Chaku]


Lot Size of One

 A lot size of one makes it possible to adapt when demand is changing. If lot-size is, for example 100 and demand is changing, the firm ends up with inventory (let's say 45 pieces) and there will be the possibility that this inventory-level will only slowly decrease. This is because when demand is increasing again a new batch will be produced, which is to be sold. The inventory level is too low to sell and will only be sold by chance, when someone asks for a lower amount of pieces.  



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