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3P / Production Preparation Process (Part 2)

Phases of 3P (cont.)

  1. Screen and vet the ideas. This is a prioritization step that whittles down the best ideas. Most refined production preparation processes will have a decision matrix specifically designed to compare ideas.
  2. Moonshine the best ideas. The term moonshine implies hacking together an unrefined solution, but one that actually works. This step changes the options from concepts on paper to more developed designs, complete with process flow. It can be a mock-up of the new product or process, but it must prove that the concept works.
  3. Select the process/design. The moonshined ideas are compared and often merged into a final result that will act as a blueprint for how the product should be built.

These steps are very high level—most formal processes will have supporting processes and documents to streamline the event, and provide clear structure to the projects.

Production preparation process events typically involve high costs due to the time and people that are devoted to them. They also tend to have an outstanding return on the investment. A solid 3P project can significantly reduce the amount of production problems a poor design or process will have down the road, as well as greatly streamline the production processes.

When to use the Production Preparation Process

These events are most effective for high risk / high reward situations. Other Lean tools are better suited to making incremental improvement, or for rolling out big changes that are fairly straightforward. Some examples of good topics include:

  1. When you are rolling out a new product.
  2. When you experience a significant change in demand that requires an overhaul of a production line.
  3. When you are moving production to a new location.
  4. When a major design change is needed due to external competition.
  5. When you need to free up a significant amount of production space.
  6. When your production process has significant quality problems you have not been able to solve.
  7. When you have significant barriers to Lean implementation.

  1. Develop your team’s basic Lean skills. Focus on 5S, Standard Work, kanban, and poka yoke.
  2. Implement Policy Deployment in your organization. Knowing where to use 3P is as important as knowing how to use it. PD helps focus your efforts.
  3. Find a seasoned mentor to guide your first few 3P events. Top performers can pick up the basics and learn as they go for many of the Lean tools. 3P is not an easy tool to learn through self-guided training.
  4. Designate a person to be the 3P expert. Most Lean practitioners cringe at the term ‘expert’ as learning never ends. But, the reality is that most companies use the production preparation process rather infrequently due to the effort that goes into planning, executing, and following up. The more exposure a person has, the quicker he or she will learn. Don’t pass up opportunities to develop home-grown talent. 

Several basic forms are commonly used in 3P events. These include:

  • The 7 Ways Idea Generation Form. This form is used to jot down ideas, and can be cut apart to create affinity diagrams.
  • The 7 Ways Comparison Form. This form is used to flesh out and compare the best ideas from the initial idea generation.
  • The 3P Idea Evaluation Matrix. This is a customized decision matrix to compare the 7 ideas.
  • The 3P Process Overview Form. This is an ‘at a glance’ look at the process finalists. It shows the proposed steps of production in greater detail.

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