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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"W" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Wait Time

    Waiting is one of the seven wastes first introduced by Taiichi Ohno, and still commonly used in modern Lean.

    Wait time is particularly bad because it consumes a non-renewable resource, and an important one at that: Time.

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  • Walk Time

    Walk time is an important factor in continuous improvement. Its main impact is on the seven wastes and on Standard Work. Obviously, the problem is that walking takes time that could be better spent working on a process. Walking distance adds up in a surprising hurry.

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  • Warehouses

    Warehouses are organized storage locations. They can store both finished goods or raw materials and components. While some warehousing can be unavoidable, in general, these types of storage facilities go against most Lean principles.

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  • Waste (+ 9-Page Lean PDF +Video +MP3 +Form)

    Seven Wastes Lean Term on PDF

    The “seven wastes” is one of the most important continuous improvement terms you will hear. Most of the Lean tools, at their core, focus on reducing waste to improve flow. The seven wastes provide a systematic way to categorize problems and identify improvement priorities.

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  • Waste of Transportation

    Transportation waste is the unnecessary movement of parts, double-handling of materials, or shuffling of inventory to get access to the right components. Transportation waste is one of the seven wastes that Taiichi Ohno identified as barriers to flow.

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  • Waste Recording Form (+Video +Form)

    Waste Recording Form

    The Waste Recording Form is used to identify and eliminate waste from a work area.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Waste, Overproduction

    See Overproduction.

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  • Water Spider / Water Strider / Mizusumashi

    A water spider or ‘mizusumashi‘ in Japanese (see our listing of Japanese Lean terms), is a person who has a prescribed set of tasks to keep materials in stock at the point of use in production areas. (Note that the water spider is alternately called a water strider.)

    This differs from a material handler in that the sequence of operations and the way the tasks are performed are specified.

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  • Whys, 5

    See 5 Whys.

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  • WIFM?

    “WIFM” is an acronym for “What’s in it for me?” (Note that it is only approximate because the number of “I”s does not match.)

    People tend to be rather logical, cause-and-effect types of creatures. They act when there is a reason to act. The basic premise of this acronym is that when that result of an action is in the best interest of a person, they are more likely to choose to do it.

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  • WIP

    See Work-in-Process.

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  • Work Cell

    A work cell is an area in a Lean company organized around the production of a specific product or product group.

    A work cell should be designed to promote flow and reduce waste.

    U Shaped Work Cell

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  • Work Instructions

    Work instructions are the specific details on how to do a job. They go hand-in-hand with Standard Work. Standard Work lays out the big picture sequence of the work; work instructions spell out the step-by-step methods used to do a job.

    Work instructions are characterized by:

    • Pictures of how work should be done
    • Specifications, such as torque
    • Part numbers and quantities of components
    • Tools required to do the work
    • Special safety instructions
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  • Work Sequence

    The work sequence is, not surprisingly, the order in which tasks are completed. Work sequence is also commonly referred to as the sequence of operations.

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  • Work Units

    One of the basic goals of lean is to create flow. The rationale is that the more that material sits in one place, the more waste it creates.

    In most cases, this means a single piece of work through the connected processes. This is where the term “one-piece flow” comes from. In some cases, though, it is okay for more than one item to move together.

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  • Work-In-Process

    Work in process (sometimes written as work-in-process and sometimes called work in progress) is a product or service that is partially completed. These goods have had something done to them, so are no longer considered raw materials or component parts.

    Lean attempts to minimize the amount of work in process to keep the total inventory in the company at a minimum.

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  • Work, Standard

    See Standard Work.

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  • Workaround

    A workaround is an unofficial or temporary fix for a problem. In effect, it is an admission that the issue cannot be immediately resolved, and a patchwork fix is put in place.

    Workarounds are not intended to be permanent fixes, but have a tendency to be left in place longer than anticipated. One problem with a workaround is that it is often quickly pieced together, so is generally not a robust or efficient process. Workarounds often collapse under increased pressure, such as when demand picks up, or new people come into the job.

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  • Workgroup

    “Workgroup” is a generic term used to describe an organization within a company that reports to a single individual. A workgroup may be a small team reporting to lead, or a much larger group reporting to a department manager.

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  • Workstation Design

    One of the key elements of any process is the workstation. Simply put, a workstation is the area that contains the work surfaces, fixtures, tools, and materials needed to perform a job.

    Classic thinking promotes the use of standard workstations. These off-the-shelf setups can be interchangeable, and often can be purchased at significant bulk discounts. The problem with purchasing a workstation out of a catalog is that it does not necessarily meet the needs of the operator performing the process.

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  • Workstations

    Workstations are exactly what they sound like. They are the locations where work is completed. In a non-Lean environment, workstations tend to be assigned to individuals, lack standardization, and often are very general in design. For example, a company may have a standard 6 foot long workbench with a shelf above it that is used in a variety of work areas.

    Workstations in a Lean company vary significantly from those that are not focused on flow.

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