Lean Production

D2MAIC projects (3/3): Improve & Control

D2MAIC projects (2/3): Measue & Analyse

D2MAIC projects (1/3): Discovery & Define

Projects are an important part of every lean program. First, you have the small problems that can be solved within the team and then you have the larger problems that can be solved with the use of A3 thinking. There are however bigger structural problems that can not simply be solved within a few weeks. These are the projects. Projects can take up to six months to complete and traditionally follow 5 Phases within (Lean) Six Sigma: define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC). I prefer to use the D2MAIC structure described by Abramowich (2005), which starts with a Discovery phase before the Define phase. This article describes the first two phases of the D2MAIC structure: the discovery and de define phase.

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) is a tool developed by Shingo to reduce change over times on machines. Using this technique, you can reduce set-up times from 4 hours to 3 minutes, which is almost 99% (Shingo, 1985). This article explains the benefit of SMED, the techniques Shingo describes for implementation, 4 steps of the SMED Kaizen event and 3 other tips.

A3 Thinking

The A3 is a tool that is used within Toyota as management tool (Shook, 2008). This tool is an actual A3 paper, which is used by managers to coach their team members while they are solving problems (Rother, 2010). This means that, where traditional managers will hand out tasks and only care about the results, the lean manager would like to hear how his mentee came to that solution. This article will describe what the A3 is, and three contexts in which it can be used: daily coaching, as part of the different forms of improvement activities and within the strategic catch-ball process.

We will learn that using the A3 is not about the form itself, but a tool to facilitate some sort of standardize storytelling, which is used to communicate facts and meaning in a common understood format (Shook, 2008).

8 Steps of Future State VSM design

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is one of the most important lean tools, used to improve the flow of materials and information. What a VSM is and an introduction in the VSM symbols is already discussed in the article: ´Value Stream Mapping´. This article focusses on the 8 steps of designing a Future State VSM which are described in the book Lean Transformations (Panneman, 2017). I will use an example factory, the lighter factory, to guide us through the different steps.
This article builds on knowledge about the following topics: VSMPull Production (one Piece FlowFIFO ‘& Supermarkets) and Heijunka.

Practical Problem Solving (3C & 5W)

Next to improving the flow of goods and services in a value stream, Lean also focusses on improving the flow of problems (Ballé & Ballé, 2012). Problems are documented and solved on the team board and escalated to a higher level Team board when the team is not able to solve the problem themselves (Mann, 2005). But how do you really solve a problem? This article describes the practice of root cause analysis and the link between the root cause analysis, team boards and the kaizen loop.

Takt-, Cycle-, Process-, en Lead time

Lean distinguishes itself form other methods by focusing mainly on time. Within tools like Value Stream Mapping (VSM)Yamazumi and Heijunka, different times are used to help you finding your next improvement opportunity. All these times are interconnected.
This article will describe a few of the different measures of time used within the Lean philosophy, starting with the time used to calculate whether or not customer demand can be supplied; the Takt time. After that, three forms of Cycle time are described and the difference between Cycle- and Process time. Finally, the most used KPI within Lean will be explained; the Lead Time.


Yamazumi (also known as Balance sheets) is a tool, which’s name could be translated into ´stacking mountain´. It is used to visualize variation in work cycles can be used for moth machine as well as operator cycles.
Within Lean, Variation (Mura) is one of the three enemies of lean. Variation can be found between products in a product family on one workstation, or for instance between workstations in one process. This variation leads to Waste (Muda) in the value stream in terms of waiting times and inventories.
The Yamazumi helps to identify these variations, with the goal of reducing it to increase the flow.


Kanban is a Japanese term that can be translated into ´Visual signal´ and is used to visualize production and transport signals in a process. Complex computerized systems are no longer necessary when standard parts can automatically be replenished using this simple card system.
This article describes what Kanban is using the 6 golden rules, gives two examples of a Kanban system and how to calculate the number of necessary Kanban’s.


Go to top