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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"F" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Fabrication

    Fabrication is the act of taking stock material and turning it into a part for use in an assembly process. There are many different types of fabrication processes. The most common are

    1. Cutting. There are many ways to cut nowadays. The old standby is the saw. Others now include plasma torches, water jets, and lasers. There is a wide range of complexity and cost, with some machines costing in the millions.
    2. Folding. Some parts need to be bent. The most common method is a press brake (or brake press). It has a set of dies that pinches the metal to form a crease. This operation can only be performed in very specific cases due to the movement of the part and the possible shape of the dies. Designing for Lean manufacturing, though, can help prevent complex shapes that slow down production. Sometimes using two different types of fabrication processes or two different pieces fastened together work better than one complicated piece.
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  • Facilitation

    The dictionary definition of facilitation is to make something easier. In this broad definition, facilitation covers a lot of ground. But in the continuous improvement definition, facilitation has a few common characteristics.

    1. Facilitation is generally done for groups, not for individuals.
    2. Facilitation is most common for discrete projects. You might see a facilitator for a kaizen event, but probably not just to help with day-to-day operations.
    3. Facilitation should focus on tools, not processes. A facilitator should walk teams through a decision making process, not make the decision for them.
    4. Facilitation should focus on getting good results, not on implementing a particular method.
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  • Facilitator

    A facilitator is an individual who instructs, coaches, and guides project teams towards their continuous improvement objectives.

    This person may be facilitating as a…

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  • Factory

    A factory is a discrete building or group of buildings that produces a product or product line.

    The first image that comes to mind with the term factory is often a car manufacturing facility, like those run by Toyota (a company well-known for its Lean manufacturing).

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  • Facts and Data

    Facts and data are the supporting evidence for making decisions. Gathering facts and data is a key part of any problem solving process, but it becomes particularly important in Lean.

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  • Fatigue – Employee

    Fatigue is the state of physical and mental state of tiredness that results in diminished capacity to perform a task or function. Because it increases the likelihood of errors, quality problems and rework, employee fatigue is an often unrecognized form of waste that can impact the safety of the workplace.

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  • Feeder Lines

    Feeder lines are a very specialized branch of a main assembly line. Generally, they are used when there is a different amount of work required for an option or for the most time intensive product on a mixed-model assembly line.

    Feeder lines will run on their own takt time. The demand on the feeder line is determined by the station that it supplies parts to. It will run at a different pace than the main assembly line.

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  • FIFO (First In First Out)

    FIFO (First In, First Out) is most commonly known as an accounting term. It simply means that the first inventory into the accounting system is the first that is recorded as used. The opposite, LIFO, or “Last In, First Out” means that the most recently purchased materials are the first ones recorded as consumed.

    FIFO and LIFO accounting each has its own advantages and disadvantages, primarily attributed to inflation. For example, when prices rise, LIFO more accurately captures true cost of the goods, while leaving older, less expensive material on the books.

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  • FIFO Lane

    A FIFO lane (First In, First Out) helps manage flow in a process. It is exactly what it sounds like. The first item coming into a process is the first one worked on.

    FIFO lanes provide consistency and predictability. They create a link between a process and its upstream supplier.

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  • First In First Out (FIFO)

    See FIFO.

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  • First Pass Yield

    First pass yield (FPY) is a metric that indicates the percentage of items moving through a series of processes without any problems.

    The basic equation for first pass yield is:

    First Pass Yield = Process 1 Yield * Process 2 Yield *…*Process ‘n’ Yield

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  • FISH / First In, Still Here

    FISH, or “First In, Still Here” is a tongue-in-cheek term for excessive inventory. It is a play on the terms FIFO (first in, first out) and LIFO (last in, first out).

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  • Fishbone Diagram

    The fishbone diagram (a.k.a. cause and effect diagram, a.k.a. Ishikawa Diagram) is a way of linking the causes of a problem to the observed effect.

    The diagram groups the causes in categories along the spine. The distinctive shape of the tool gives the fishbone diagram its name.

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  • Five “Whys”

    See 5 Whys.

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  • Fixtures

    A manufacturing fixture holds parts during the manufacturing process. Fixtures come in a wide range of types.

    In their simplest form, they may be a series of pins sticking up from a flat surface to keep a part from sliding. They can also be much more complicated, with a series of mechanical or hydraulic clamps to lock a part down into an automated rotating frame.

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  • Flat Surfaces

    Flat surfaces are bad for work areas.

    1. They collect dirt, dust, debris, etc.
    2. They don’t support processes.
    3. People use them for storage.
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  • Flexibility

    Process flexibility applies both to the ability to rapidly change model mix as well as to change layouts of your facility. As continuous improvement speeds up its pace, you will find that your production areas enter a state of constant flux.

    Build process flexibility into your workstations. Suspend power and air lines from the ceiling, and attach them to the top of your workstations with quick disconnects. Put your stations on wheels. Make them small enough to get through door openings, or make your doors wider. Break big workbenches into multiple small ones to add more flexibility to process improvement.

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  • Flow

    Making operations flow is the ultimate goal of Lean. When all the waste is reduced, every process is improved, and the excess inventory is eliminated, you are left with work that effortlessly glides through operations.

    Flow is often talked about reverently. The senseis I worked with from a premiere Japanese consulting group frequently talked about flow. Next to “waste”, flow was one of the few words they would speak in English-to stress its importance.

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  • Flow Chart (+ 11-Page Term on PDF)

    Flow Chart Lean Term on PDF

    Flow charts are an instrumental tool for continuous improvement and problem solving. Their visual nature make waste and complexity jump out, highlighting improvement opportunities. Review this term online, watch a short video, or download a FREE 11-Page PDF on Flow Charts.

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  • Flow Production

    Flow production is one of many names used to describe a system of production that predominantly follows Lean principles.

    It is typified by single units of work moving directly from one process to the next without stopping in queues. That state of streamlined motion is known as flow, and is the holy grail of Lean production.

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  • FMEA Worksheet / Failure Mode and Effects Analysis Sheet (+Form)

    FMEA Worksheet

    The FMEA Worksheet provides a means of assessing and managing risk associated with a new product release or a new Lean process.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Follow-Up

    Follow-up is the act of making sure that

    • something was supposed to be done was, in fact, done, or
    • that something that was done is working as planned
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  • Form, Fit, and Function

    “Form, fit, and function” are most commonly discussed in relation to the design of an object, or when considering if a process is value added or not.

    • Form: Form is the physical characteristics of the product. It includes things like shape, weight, color, material, etc.
    • Fit: Fit is short for ‘fits intended application’. Alternatively, it may also reference whether the physical dimensions of a part fit into the product it was designed to go into.
    • Function: Function is what the product actually does.
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  • FPY (First Pass Yield)

    See First Pass Yield.

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  • Frontline Employees

    Frontline employees are the people who do the ongoing production work in an organization. While the range and skills of frontline employees vary widely, most of the entry-level jobs within the company fall into this category. That is not to say all jobs are entry-level. There are many senior production workers, especially among skilled fabricators and machine operators.

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  • Frontline of Change

    The people actually doing a process a new way are at the frontline of change. They are the ones who must enforce new processed with internal customers, manage changes with suppliers, or work with customers to educate them about the new and improved methods.

    Working at the frontline of change can be physically challenging, as it often demands long hours during the adjustment period, but it can also be emotionally draining.

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  • Frustration

    Frustration is the feeling of anxiety or dissatisfaction that results from the gap between expectations and reality. Frustration happens when problems are unsolved and when things don’t go according to plan.

    Lean depends heavily on employee engagement and job satisfaction to work at its best. Frustration reduces job satisfaction, thereby lowering the effectiveness of Lean efforts.

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  • FTE

    FTE, or ‘full-time equivalent’, is a way to normalize staffing decisions. In the modern workforce, particularly in administrative environments, employees perform multiple functions, or work unusual schedules.

    Using FTE to determine the size of the workforce makes accurate productivity and cost measures possible. A full-time equivalent ‘person’ is simply 40 hours of working time. This could be a single person working in one role, or four people each working 10 hours on a particular job.

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  • Full-Time Equivalent

    See also FTE.

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  • Functional Layout

    A functional layout is a workplace organization in which processes are organized by the type of work (function) rather than by value stream or in a cellular configuration where sequential process steps are located in close proximity. In a functional layout, for example, the cutting machines would be in one location, the press brakes would be in one group, the welders would all be together, and so on.

    The same is true in office environments. Each functional group sits together in a work area, and supports multiple product teams.

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  • Future State Value Stream Map (VSM)

    A future state value stream map (VSM) is simply a projection of how a value stream should look in the future, generally 6 to 12 months.

    When a current state value stream map is created, problem areas become apparent. The bottlenecks where inventory piles up, processes with poor quality, and operations requiring excessive coordination should all be marked with kaizen bursts, which indicate areas of focus for the future state value stream map. Operations where work is pushed downstream should also be highlighted.

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