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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Flow Production:   The production system Henry Ford introduced at his Highland Park, Michigan, plant in 1913.  The objective of flow production was to drastically reduce product throughput time and human effort through a series of innovations. These included consistently interchangeable parts so that cycle times could be stable for every job along an extended line, the line itself, the reconfiguration of part fabrication tasks so that machines were lined up in process sequence with parts flowing quickly and smoothly from machine to machine, and a production control system insuring that the production rate in parts fabrication matched the consumption rate of parts More »
Continuous Flow:   Producing and moving one item at a time (or a small and consistent batch of items) through a series of processing steps as continuously as possible, with each step making just what is requested by the next step.  Continuous flow can be achieved in a number of ways, ranging from moving assembly lines to manual cells. It also is called one-piece flow, single-piece flow, and make one, move one. More »
Information Flow:   The movement of information on customer desires backward from the customer to the points where the information is needed to direct each operation (see illustrations below).  In companies based on mass production principles, the flow of information usually takes parallel forms: Forecasts flowing back from company to company and facility to facility; schedules flowing back from company to company and facility to facility; daily (or weekly or hourly) shipping orders telling each facility what to ship on the next shipment; and expedited information countermanding forecasts, schedules, and shipping orders to adjust the production system to changing conditions.  Companies applying lean More »
Material Flow:   The movement of physical items through the entire value stream.  In mass production, products travel to centralized processes in large batches, pushed forward on the instructions of a master scheduling system (see illustration below). In lean production, the process steps for different product families are moved together, whenever possible, into tight process sequence so small amounts of product can flow directly from step to step at the pull of the next downstream process and of the end customer. More »
One-Piece Flow:   see Continuous Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see One-Piece Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see One-Piece Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see Continuous Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see Continuous Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see One-Piece Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see One-Piece Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see Continuous Flow
Single-Piece Flow:   see Continuous Flow
Designing the Patient Flow to Fight Covid-19
By: Lean Leaper | April 29, 2020
Columns
A Lean Global Network team of lean practitioners and coaches shares a set of lean healthcare tips hospitals can use today to support their battle against Covid-19. Part 1 of a 7 part series, Fighting Covid-19 with Lean Healthcare. More »
Why We Believe that Pull Flows Are Too Often Overlooked
By: Lean Sensei Women | January 29, 2020
Columns
In this incisive series of articles on the essential value of pulled flow, the lean sensei women argue, in the words of Catherine Chabiron, that pulled flows are not just a manufacturing fad. It is the only way we know to dig deeper into our jobs, collaborate better, and eventually face all the real problems. More »
Isn’t flow the ultimate aim of lean?
By: Michael Ballé | November 4, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, Isn’t flow the ultimate aim of lean? More »
Why does no one ask about production flow anymore?
By: Michael Balle | May 7, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: As I read lean posts and papers, no one seems to have problems like this anymore, but I am trying to convince my manager that we have a bottleneck in the production process and that we should have two work stations in parallel to improve the flow. What would be the lean argument for doing that? More »
Ask Art: Why Do I Need to Switch From Batch to Flow?
By: Art Byrne | April 12, 2018
Columns
Moving from batch to flow reveals the waste in your processes and simplifies your work at a systems level, says Art Byrne. It creates simplicity, and a productive tension to deal with problems as they occur, as well as other strategic benefits. More »
Ask Art: How One-Piece-Flow Supports Quality
By: Art Byrne | January 13, 2016
Columns
"One-piece-flow is the key to quality improvements," writes Art Byrne. "In my experience it is pretty common to get a 10x or better gain in quality once you are in a one-piece-flow. This will occur naturally and is something that you get for free.  " Find out how this works in Art's latest piece. More »
Turn on the Spigot: Create Flow in R&D
By: Terry Barnhart | September 30, 2015
Columns
"Flow in R&D is as critical as in manufacturing," writes Terry Barnhart. "It is a little more difficult to see, which is why your company, if you create R&D flow, will begin to put on the market more innovative products and processes than your competitors.  " More »
Creating Continuous Flow (eBook)
By: Mike Rother and Rick Harris | August 15, 2013
Books
This workbook explains in simple, step-by-step terms how to introduce and sustain lean flows of material and information in pacemaker cells and lines, a prerequisite for achieving a lean value stream.  A sight we frequently encounter when touring plants is the relocation of processing steps from departments (process villages) to product-family work cells, but too often these "cells" produce only intermittent and erratic flow. Output gyrates from hour to hour and small piles of inventory accumulate between each operation so that few of the benefits of cellularization are actually being realized; and, if the cell is located upstream from the More »
Why is Flow Easy, and Quality Hard?
By: Ballé, Michael | March 4, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: My lean team has become proficient at teaching flow but it's not gaining traction when it comes to quality issues. Do you have any recommendations? More »
Single Patient Flow: Applying Lean Principles in Healthcare (DVD)
By: Sami Bahri, DDS | January 1, 2011
Books; Videos and Webinars
Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award recipientIntroducing the first in GBMP's new virtual tours for healthcare video series.  On overview of the "Single Patient Flow" DVD. (Note: To view the above clip, your company must allow streaming video.  )Meet Dr. Sami Bahri, the “World’s First Lean Dentist.  ” Over the past thirty years, through personal study of The Deming Management System and subsequently many texts describing the Toyota Production System, Dr. Bahri and his staff have continuously pursued a singular mission: “to provide patients with the correct treatment they need, when they need it, in the right quantity that they More »
Value-Stream Mapping at FAA Office Improves Information Flow
By: Marchwinski, Chet | May 7, 2010
Articles
Lean management principles and tools originated on the shop floor to improve manufacturing processes but in its first value-stream mapping project, a regional office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that lean thinking is just as effective in improving work flow processes in an office. More »
Why does one-piece-flow matter?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 3, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Recently, during a plant visit, our sensei made a big fuss because there were three parts between two operators and he insisted on one or zero. Why the big difference between three parts and one part in the process? More »
New Facility, New Flow, and New Levels of Patient Care The wait is over for patients at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Alabama
By: George Taninecz | February 22, 2007
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
Dr. Marshall Schreeder treats cancer and treatment processes at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Alabama. More »
Making Materials Flow
By: Rick Harris, Chris Harris, and Earl Wilson | September 15, 2003
Books
 Making Materials Flow describes in plain language another step in implementing a complete lean business system by explaining how to supply purchased parts to the value stream in order to support continuous flow. More »
Creating Continuous Flow / Making Materials Flow Set
By: Rick Harris, Mike Rother, et al. | September 15, 2003
Books
 Buy the two workbooks on flow together and save 15%. Continuous flow cells need a lean material-handling system to supply them with purchased parts. The concepts, formulas, and finer points of how to implement and link these two important tools are all in this special set. Creating Continuous Flow explains in detail how to implement truly continuous flow in cellularized operations. Making Materials Flow walks you through the next step by explaining the specifics of supplying purchased parts to cells in order to support continuous flow. More »
Learning to See / Creating Continuous Flow Set
By: Mike Rother, John Shook, and Rick Harris | June 3, 2003
Books
Buy LEI's first two workbooks together and save 15%. Learning to See, a key initial step in a lean conversion, teaches you the value-stream perspective that is fundamental to lean and the effective use of lean tools. Creating Continuous Flow, the follow-up workbook, zooms in from the dock-to-dock value-stream perpective to the cell level to help you achieve true continuous flow at your critical pacemaker process. More »
Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Flow
By: Harris, Rick | December 1, 2001
Articles
Lean Enterprise Institute Author Rick Harris shares his insights for spotting "fake flow" and replacing it with real continuous flow. Reprinted with permission from December 2001 IIE Solutions magazine. Copyright 2001, Institute of Industrial Engineers. Follow-up resources: Read about the Creating Continuous Flow workbook. Check the Creating Continuous Flow workshop schedule. More »
Creating Continuous Flow
By: Mike Rother and Rick Harris | June 11, 2001
Books
This workbook explains in simple, step-by-step terms how to introduce and sustain lean flows of material and information in pacemaker cells and lines, a prerequisite for achieving a lean value stream.  A sight we frequently encounter when touring plants is the relocation of processing steps from departments (process villages) to product-family work cells, but too often these "cells" produce only intermittent and erratic flow. Output gyrates from hour to hour and small piles of inventory accumulate between each operation so that few of the benefits of cellularization are actually being realized; and, if the cell is located upstream from the More »
After Lean Progress, Fighting the Challenges of Backsliding
By: Nicolas Chartier | January 31, 2020
Columns
After accepting the tough challenge of reducing deliver lead-time, CEO Nicolas Chartier and their entire team learned "to react at the first sign of backsliding and grit our teeth and never, never agree to lower the bar.  " More »
A Tool That Every High-Mix, Low-Volume Leader Needs to See
By: Greg Lane | May 9, 2017
Columns
"High mix, low volume operations are a difficult concept to grasp," writes Greg Lane. But it doesn't have to be - with a few simple tools and concepts, you can handle the constant changes typical of a HMLV environment. Today, Lane shares one of his favorites. More »
Apples & Oranges: Value Stream Mapping in a Low-Volume/High-Mix Environment
By: Aaron Hunt | October 27, 2015
Columns
"Making improvements using lean principles in a low volume/high mix (LVHM) manufacturing environment can be difficult, especially when trying to determine where to start," writes Aaron Hunt in his first Lean Post article. But it's not impossible. Here's how Aaron mapped the complex value streams at his LVHM organization and opened the doors to next-level productivity. More »
My Lean Journey: The 5Ss
By: Cameron Ford | October 14, 2015
Columns
Do you remember the first time you realized the true potential of lean in improving work output? Lean newcomer Cam Ford does - here's his story of the very first lean concept he ever used and how it helped him almost from Day 1. More »
Value Stream Maps and Battle Plans - Are They Worth Nothing?
By: Chet Marchwinski and Judy Worth | March 27, 2015
Columns
“I’m reluctant to say maps are nothing, but there’s a difference between maps and mapping," Judy Worth says, paraphrasing Eisenhower’s insight that battle plans meant nothing, but PLANNING for battle was indispensable. “An awful lot of lot of the benefit that comes out of value-stream maps comes from the process of mapping with other people.  " More »
WHAT IS LEAN ABOUT?
By: By Mike Rother & Jeff Liker | January 4, 2015
Presentations
The Kata SlideShare for January presents some thoughts (and video) as we in the Lean community mark the 25th Anniversary of the introduction of Lean as a paradigm in 'The Machine that Changed the World.  ' There have been many definitions of Lean, but the cool idea of "Humans striving to better flow value to a customer" is a mindset that perhaps underlies all of them. More »
Teaching Lean Concepts to Future STEM Professionals in New Philadelphia Ohio
By: Joe Pry | August 6, 2014
Columns
Joe Pry, Intro to Engineering teacher at New Philadelphia High School in Ohio, is bringing lean training for STEM professions to his students with a grant from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. Here's a story of four organizations working together to teach lean engineering concepts and connect students with manufacturing and engineering jobs in their communities. More »
The Problem with Batch Logic
By: Ian Glenday | January 30, 2014
Columns
Enterprise Resource Planning processes use economic order quantities (=EOQ), also known as batch logic, to calculate what is required. This is not compatible with Lean. In his first piece for the Post, lean author and coach Ian Glenday gives us three reasons why. More »
A Connecticut Yankee Machinist in Toyoda’s Castle
By: John Shook | September 27, 2013
Columns
“Culture matters,” John Shook tells us in his post about Charles A. Francis, an American who worked for Toyota group founder Sakichi Toyoda in the early 1900s, “but never let stereotypical views of national character be used as an excuse to not do the right thing.  ” Read this remarkable story of a missing piece to the larger story of continuous innovation in process technology between the United States and Japan over the past 150 years. More »
Does quality really come first?
By: Ballé, Michael | July 22, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’ve been practicing lean for many years and have learned to create flow and one-piece-flow. However I still struggle with quality problems. I hear that quality comes first, but face many challenges trying to put this phrase into practice. What’s your take on this? More »
Book Value: Jim Womack on Ford Methods and Ford Shops
By: Jim Womack | July 9, 2013
Columns
Jim Womack, author of Lean Thinking and founder of The Lean Enterprise Institute, reflects on one of the books that greatly influenced his thinking. More »
Landscape Forms Cultivates Lean to Fuel Growth Goals
By: Tonya Vinas | February 11, 2009
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
With single-item orders 80% of the time, adopting single-piece flow and cellular production made sense to management at Landscape Forms, a low-volume, high-mix producer of outdoor furniture in Kalamazoo, MI. Find out how the company continued to spread the lean conversion by taking on the harder challenges of reinventing the production schedule through leveling, implementing lean financial management, and creating culture that embraced change and More »
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