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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Product Family:   A product and its variants passing through similar processing steps and common equipment just prior to shipment to the customer. The significance of product families for lean thinkers is that they are the unit of analysis for value-stream maps, which are defined from the most downstream step just before the customer.  Note that product families can be defined from the standpoint of any customer along an extended value stream, ranging from the ultimate customer (the end consumer) to intermediate customers within the production process.  For example: In a power tools business, a product family might be defined as medium-sized electric More »
Product Family Matrix:   A chart constructed by lean thinkers to identify appropriate product families.  In the illustration below, a firm with seven product lines, as perceived by its customers, arrayed its assembly steps and equipment across the top of a product family matrix and quickly found a common path for Products A, B, and C, which it then value stream mapped as a product family. More »
Value Stream Mapping for Job Shops
By: Irani, Shahrukh | February 2, 2004
Articles
Professor Irani discusses product family matrix analysis for value-stream mapping More »
Value-Stream Mapping
By: Womack, Jim | May 1, 2012
Articles; Value-Stream Maps
In a special article for SME's Manufacturing Enginering, Jim Womack, founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, explains the purpose and process of  value-stream mapping with examples from production and office environments. More »
Seeing the Whole (Part 1)
By: Womack, James P. and Daniel T. Jones | February 10, 2003
Articles
An extended value stream is simply all of the actions—both value-creating and wasteful—required to bring a product from raw materials into the arms of the customer. The relevant actions to be mapped consist of two flows: (a) orders traveling upstream from the customer (or from the sales department when forecasts substitute for confirmed orders) and (b) products coming down the value stream from raw materials to customer. Together these constitute a closed circuit of demand and response.  Read all of Part 1: Getting Started More »
Learning to See (Part 1)
By: Rother, Mike and John Shook | June 2, 2003
Articles
" 'Value-stream' may be a new phrase in your vocabulary. A value stream is all the actions (both value added and non-value added) currently required to bring a product through the main flows essential to every product: (1) the production flow from raw material into the arms of the customer, and (2) the design flow from concept to launch. This workbook looks at the production flow from customer demand back through raw material, which is the flow we usually relate to lean manufacturing and precisely the area where many have struggled to implement lean methods.  "Read all of Part 1 from More »
Creating Continuous Flow (Foreword by Jim Womack, Dan Jones, John Shook)
By: Rother, Mike and Rick Harris | June 11, 2001
Articles
When we launched Learning to See (LTS) in the summer of 1998, as the first publication of the Lean Enterprise Institute, we urged readers to identify their major product families and to draw maps showing the flow of information and products as it currently exists. We pointed out that mapping can be done at many levels — from a single process within a manufacturing facility to the complete path from raw material to customer — and suggested that the best place to start is with the flow of information and product within the walls of a single plant.  Read the More »
Seeing the Whole (Foreword by John Shook)
By: Womack, James P. and Daniel T. Jones | February 10, 2003
Articles
"When the first item in the Lean Tool Kit, Learning to See, was launched in June of 1998, we at LEI began to hear from managers in many industries that “this is the tool we have been looking for.  ” Readers quickly realized that the great power of Learning to See lies in focusing attention on the value stream for individual product families within plants. Rather than concentrating on isolated processes along the value stream or aggregated activities serving many value streams, readers could suddenly see how to optimize the flow of each product from receiving to shipping. This insight 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 »
Learning to See (Table of Contents)
By: Rother, Mike and John Shook | June 2, 2003
Articles
See the Table of Contents for the workbook Learning to See. More »
LEI’s new tool for seeing the big picture
By: Womack, Jim | March 1, 2002
Columns; eLetters
We introduce the latest LEI workbook, Seeing the Whole, which provides a simple tool for mapping the extended value stream for your product families More »
Making Materials Flow (Foreword by Jim Womack, Dan Jones, John Shook, and Jose Ferro)
By: Harris, Rick; Chris Harris; and Earl Wilson | September 15, 2003
Articles
"When we launched Learning to See (LTS) in the summer of 1998 as the first publication of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), we urged readers to start down a path toward perfect operational processes by mapping the value stream for each product family. We pointed out that mapping could be done at many levels — from a single process within a manufacturing facility to the complete path from raw materials to the customer. We suggested that the best place to start is with the flow of information and materials within the walls of a single plant.  "Read the rest of 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 »
Workbooks on Lean Material Handling and Pull Production Receive Shingo Prizes
By: Marchwinski, Chet | April 20, 2005
Articles
Two workbooks published by the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) about how to implement critical elements of lean manufacturing have received Shingo Prizes. More »
Creating Continuos Flow (Part 1)
By: Rother, Mike and Rick Harris | June 11, 2001
Articles
Apex Tube Company is a typical discrete parts manufacturer that we will use to illustrate the process of creating continuous flow. Apex produces a variety of tubular products for automotive, truck, and heavy-equipment applications. Two years ago Apex responded to pressure from its customers for lower prices, higher quality, more frequent deliveries, and more rapid response to changing demand by taking a hard look at its manufacturing operations. More »
Online Value-Stream Mapping for Manufacturing FAQ
By: Lean Enterprise Institute | January 29, 2010
Articles; Workshops
Frequently Asked Questions for the Online Workshop - Value-Stream Mapping for Manufacturing More »
What’s the Problem: Andrew Lingel Discusses Transforming a Family Business through Knowledge, Grit, and Outrage
By: Matthew Savas | February 10, 2020
Columns
In this What's the Problem podcast with Matt Savas, President Andrew Lingel of United Plastic Fabricating shares how he helped lead a transformation in this family business that makes polypropylene products primarily for the fire industry. More »
Making Materials Flow (Part 1)
By: Harris, Rick; Chris Harris; and Earl Wilson | September 15, 2003
Articles
"Apex Tube Company is a typical discrete parts manufacturer, making fuel lines for cars, trucks, and heavy equipment. Several years ago, Apex responded to pressure from its customers for lower prices, higher quality, more frequent deliveries, and more rapid response to changing demands by taking a hard look at its manufacturing operations.  ""One facility — the example used in Creating Continuous Flow — took a dramatic leap to embrace lean production on a plant-wide basis by creating high-performance cells. It also introduced a lean production-control system using kanban to connect a finished-parts market with the pacemaker cells and the pacemaker More »
Training to See Kit: A Value-Stream Mapping Workshop
By: Mike Rother and John Shook | October 14, 2002
Books; Training Packages; Workshops
The Training to See kit enables you to take people through the exercise of value-stream mapping, from selecting a product family, to mapping its current state to identify root causes of waste, mapping a leaner future state, and developing a plan to implement the future state to achieve results. The kit presents the proven approach and lessons of Learning to See, LEI’s best-selling workbook on value-stream mapping (VSM). More »
Designing Hospitals in Collaboration with Patients and Families
By: Danielle McGuiness | August 12, 2013
Columns
LEI coach Danielle Blais shares her reflections on a recent visit to Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, a hospital built from the ground up using lean principles. More »
Value at the Imperial Grill
By: Pascal Dennis | June 10, 2014
Columns
"The Imperial Grill was a lean enterprise, and my folks, lean thinkers, though they would simply call it common sense," writes Pascal Dennis. In his first piece for the Post, Dennis shares the powerful business lessons he learned growing up at his family's Greek diner. More »
WLEI: 34. What’s the Problem: Andrew Lingel Discusses Transforming a Family Business through Knowledge, Grit, and Outrage
By: Lean Enterprise Institute | February 10, 2020
Audio
Andrew Lingel, President of United Plastic Fabricating, discusses leading lean transformation of a family business through knowledge, grit, and outrage.  Learn more:Learn more about UPF's transformation at the 2020 Lean Summit, April 6-7 in Carlsbad, CA.  Download the PDF transcript for this episode. More »
Knife Company Hones Competitiveness by Bucking the Status Quo
By: Tonya Vinas | June 5, 2008
Case Studies
Family-owned Buck Knives needed to reduce costs by at least 30% to keep its U.  S. operations open. In turning to lean, the company gained more than just improved efficiency. Leaders are making better decisions, and flexibility has given Buck a unique advantage even though it had more reasons than most companies to shun lean concepts. Despite the challenges, the company now does nearly everything differently from allocations of costs for shop-floor supplies to working with its key retail customer More »
Transcript for the WLEI Podcast: What's the Problem, Andrew Lingel, President of United Plastic Fabricating, discusses leading lean transformation of a family business through knowledge, grit, and outrage.
By: Matt Savas and Andrew Lingel | February 9, 2020
Articles
Transcript for WLEI Podcast: What's the Problem, Andrew Lingel, President of United Plastic Fabricating, discusses leading lean transformation of a family business through knowledge, grit, and outrage.    More »
Lean Alternative to "Spaghetti World"
By: Womack, Jim | November 28, 2001
Columns; eLetters
It's now time to re-think the connectivity costs of the "spaghetti world" we've built, where every part in every product seems to travel several times across national borders as it progresses from raw materials to the customer. The alternative is "value stream compression" in which all of the steps in fabricating and assembling product families are "compressed" in one place to dramatically reduce throughput times while largely eliminating connectivity costs More »
LSG Sky Chefs Caters to New Market Realities
By: Chet Marchwinski | April 29, 2003
Case Studies
Business at airline caterer LSG Sky Chefs dropped 30% when airlines cut flights after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.   Sky Chefs responded with a rapid launch of a lean initiative. Read how it applied lean rapidly in a nontraditional environment, where “parts” are perishable and whipsawing demand is buffered with sandwich supermarkets. More »
Your Product Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing
By: Jim Morgan | July 25, 2013
Columns
Jim Morgan, former product/process development executive at Ford (and co-author of The Toyota Product Development System), reflects on what should really matter to you and your business and why. More »
Cutting Carbon Emissions and Product Costs Through Lean Product and Process Development
By: Katrina Appell | May 1, 2019
Columns
As the need to reduce carbon emissions becomes clearer, the need to understand the impact and consciously consider it during the design phase is ever more important, argues Katrina Appel. Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) principles, methodologies, and management behaviors are a system that enables the environmental impact of the entire product life-cycle to be consciously considered in the design phase. More »
Getting the Right Product Right, and Other Product Development Trends
By: John Drogosz | September 4, 2019
Columns
As a lean product and process development coach John Drogosz, PhD, works closely with companies in a variety of industries that are redesigning development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. He took a time out at the annual Designing the Future Summit to talk about the product development trends he is seeing. More »
Lean Product Development: Delivering New Products, Faster and Better
Workshops
Many companies have applied lean thinking to manufacturing or service processes, and some have even honed focus by applying the standard tools and methods to additional organizational functions. But true lean leaders realize that their enterprise cannot thrive in the current environment of rapid change and unpredictable economics by focusing only on efficiency More »
Building as Product
By: Baris Lostuvali | March 18, 2015
Columns
"A building project, although it has many different moving parts and players, is a product. It’s a uniquely different product than a car, airplane, or toaster.  .. But it’s a product," writes Baris Lostuvali. "And it’s a product that desperately needs a better process and sociotechnical system and process for coming to be.  " More »
Lean Thinking Therapy Spreads Beyond the Shop
By: Chet Marchwinski | February 5, 2004
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Value-Stream Maps
Medtronic Xomed expanded the lean transformation beyond the shop floor to areas such as international distribution, product development, and domestic shipping. Along the way, company leadership also reorganized the operational structure by value-streams. More »
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