Japanese Lean Manufacturing Terms

We often have people ask us about various Japanese terms that are used in lean manufacturing.  Since lean production was simply a term used to describe the Toyota Production System back in the 1980’s, Japanese words are used to describe certain principles and concepts.  We’ve created a cartoon video that talks about some of the Japanese Lean terms such as kaizen, kanban, heijunka, muda, mura, muri, andon, poka yoke, and others.


Heijunka: Leveling The Mix and Volume of Work

In lean thinking, we often talk about leveling the mix and volume of work.  This is the concept known as heijunka, and most people simply accept this as just another “tool in the toolbox.”  However, it actually is not a tool at all; heijunka is a principle.  It is the idea that if we level the quantity of work we output at each point in a process, we can facilitate connected flow throughout our value streams with as few delays and as little inventory (or things waiting for the next processing step) as possilble.  Without heijunka, pull systems and one piece flow do not function properly.  This prevents us from achieving the ultimate condition: providing a defect-free product or service to the customer when they need it and in the right quantity.  We’ve created a somewhat humorous cartoon in our lean series of animated videos for you to enjoy.  To learn more, visit our website and read some of our lean manufacturing articles, sign up for our lean newsletter, or take one of our lean manufacturing training courses.

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