Terms M-N


Machine Capacity

A measure of a process or machine’s ability to make product. Simple capacity is determined by the ratio of available time to part-machine cycle time. Expressed as units / hr, day, month, etc. A more robust capacity calculation involves set-up and maintenance down time.


Machine Cycle Time

The time it takes for a machine to produce one unit, including the time it takes to load and unload.



Refers to activities directed to maintaining current technological, managerial, and operational standards. Maintenance in this sense constitutes a "floor" upon which improvement efforts are based. Maintenance, thus, is distinguished from KAIZEN and Innovation, which move the "floor" upward by means of the PDCA cycle.


Make/Buy Analysis

The process of determining which parts/ processes will be kept in house and which will be farmed out to vendors. Usually based on competency analysis, the availability of capital, and the “fit” of the products into product families (i.e. planned work cells)


Management by Policy See "Hoshin Planning"


Manufacturing Resources Planning II (MRPII)

A second generation MRP system that provides additional control linkages such as automatic purchase order generation, capacity planning, and accounts payable transactions and shop floor control modules.



Contrasted to Product-Out, this concept concerns a factual understanding of customer needs and wants, and figures in how to satisfy them, rather than assuming that the company knows what those needs and wants are. It also implies that those companies do best who can anticipate the latent customer needs and wants before customers are even aware that such products and services might be possible.


Master Schedule

A macro listing of end items to be produced by a facility within a given time period. Usually performed monthly. The master schedule serves as a basis for: capacity planning, material requirements planning and shop floor control (detailed scheduling).


Materials Requirements Planning (MRP)

A computerized information system that calculates materials requirements based on a master production schedule. This system may be used only for materials procurement or to also execute the material plan through shop floor control.


Milk Run

A standard “path” around a factory, or around a loop of suppliers that happens on a defined schedule and sequence. The intent of the run is to pick-up and drop off materials. The milk run precludes the need to schedule point-to-point transportation and improves transportation economies by aggregating different “supplies” within a single vehicle.


Mistake Proofing

 A method of designing processes, either production or administrative, which will by their nature prevent errors. This may involve designing fixtures that will not accept a defective part or something as simple as having a credit memo as a different color than a debit memo. It requires that thought be put into the design of any system to anticipate what can go wrong and build in measures to prevent them.


Mixed-Model Production 

Making different products on the same production line. The different products may require different resources, set-ups and labor content. Mixed model production smoothes out the resource consumption by alternating products to smooth the load. Mixed model differs from traditional “batch” production by alternating models on a fairly short cycle. In “batch” many models may share the line but, only one model will be run at a time. In mixed model, changeover times must be less than takt time. See Heijunka


Mixed Model Sequence

The optimum pattern for running different products down a production line. The Mixed model sequence defines the pattern and ratio of products that minimizes the changeover difficulties, levels the work and balances the flow. See Heijunka.


Mizusumashi or Water spider

The name water spider represents a different way of thinking about the flow of materials. Instead of seeing how much you can bring at one time to be more "efficient", the water spider or water strider brings to mind the small bug balanced on top of water responding to signals. When “dinner” alights on water nearby, the vibration calls the water spider who skates over the surface tension to achieve success. A water spider in material flow:

  • Is the short-term solution to have the assemblers increase the percentage of their time creating value.
  • Responds flexibly and rapidly to bring just what the operator needs just when it is needed to add value to the product.
  • Moves frequently and quickly on a route of some kind that is coordinated with takt time.

If the waterspider carries too much, it falls through, i.e., it can't keep up with takt time and quick changeovers:

  • Works outside of the core value-adding process presenting materials in the right order and in the right orientation.
  • Does the factory’s walking, waiting, getting, moving, transporting, filling, copying, filling, etc.

Are key individuals who have high involvement and understanding of the value-adding process, and are most often on the high end of the production pay scale.

An illustration of this is: 23 people spending ½ to 2 hours a day walking, looking, waiting, etc. equals 12-46 hours per day of non-valued added time vs. 1 person spending 8 hours walking, looking, waiting, etc. which equals 8 hours, a reduction of 33% - 82% in wasted time. In the long term, as waste is eliminated the water spider's job evolves into a cell support person. At this point, the job becomes back filling absent (cell) employees, maintaining POU inventory and transporting completed product.



 The Japanese term for the industrial engineering, more properly translated as "profit-making industrial engineering"



A large, immovable production machine or process that forces batching and queuing to optimize its efficiency.


Muda (Waste)

 1) Japanese word for "Waste".

2) One of the "3 Ms" (Muda, Mura [Irregularity or Unevenness] and Muri [Strain].)

3) Anything that interrupts the flow of products and services through the value stream and out to the customer is designated Muda ­ or waste.

4) Any human activity which absorbs resources, but creates no real value. [See Non-Value Added, Waste] 5) Activities and results to be eliminated; within manufacturing, categories of waste, according to Shigeo Shingo, include:

  • Defects- production of an item that is scrapped or required rework
  • Overproduction - excess production and early production
  • Waiting - waste time spent at the machine; delays
  • Non-utilized Talent- not utilizing the talent of your staff in the right jobs or place within the organization
  • Transportation - waste involved in the movement and transportation of units
  • Inventory - waste in taking inventory
  • Motion - actions of people or machinery that do not add value to the product
  • Extra Processing - waste in processing; poor process design

Muda Walk

A half-hour walk through the Gemba to observe evidence of what may be various types of Muda. The object of this walk is to show that the Gemba is full of data and opportunities for improvement for those whose eyes are trained to see them. Muda walks are not intended to provide opportunities for blaming and finding fault.



(One of the "3 Ms".) 3) Inconsistency, irregularity or unevenness. 2) Variations in process quality, cost and delivery



(One of the "3 Ms".) Muri means unreasonableness or strain. 2) Demand exceeds capacity.




Smooth production flow, ideally one piece at a time, characterized by synchronization (balancing) of production processes and maximum utilization of available time, including overlapping of operations where practical. 


Nagara System

1) A production system where seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced by the same operator simultaneously.

2) Accomplishing two or more activities with one motion.



The art of invisibility (applies to management).


Non-Judgmental, Non-Blaming

 One of three KAIZEN Principles. Contrasted to the traditional tendency to find who is to blame for problems and mistakes, this approach looks at the problem with others to seek a solution. Also implicit in this principle is an approach of childlike curiosity about how things work and how they can be improved, instead of judging whether things already done are good or bad, right or wrong. The principle does not imply that managers must never exercise judgment, since good judgment is always required in decision-making.


Non-Statistical Quality Control

Much of quality control is non-statistical, particularly that portion which has to do with human resources. Elements are: self-discipline, morale, communications, human relations, and standardization. Statistics are only one tool in Quality Control and are of limited use with regard to human beings and methods.


Non-Value Added

1) Activities or actions taken that add no real value to the product or service, making such activities or action a form of waste. [See: Value Added].

2) Those actions in the workplace that the customer is not willing to pay for. 



Click Below to Translate Website!

Looking for LEAN Implementation Tips?  Subscribe to our FREE "Learning to Lean" Newsletter!

Looking for LEAN Definitions?  

Click below to access our Lean Glossary!

Print Print | Sitemap
© GDC Total Business Solutions